Worksop MP John Mann says Labour has not had the ‘courage’ to talk about immigration and needs to get ‘its head around’ the argument.
Mr Mann, who was one of a small number of Labour MPs who voted for Britain to leave the European Union, made his comments after today’s historic referendum result.
He said his party had not been ‘prepared to talk’ about immigration and called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to engage more with disillusioned party supporters.
In an interview with the BBC, the Bassetlaw MP said: “Our voters have voted the way I thought they should vote and they have voted in very large numbers. Not every Labour MP fully understands that.”
The landmark poll saw all but one of Nottinghamshire’s constituencies vote out and more than 67 per cent of voters in his constituency backed the Leave campaign at the ballot box.
Mr Mann said: “Jeremy should be talking to Labour voters but also coming up with an agenda about what should happen because it’s Labour voters who won this referendum.
“That creates a mandate for the new Tory leader and that mandate is not to renege on any of the workers’ rights issues, their paid holidays, paternity pay, their working hours, but also one of the quick wins is to reverse the privatisation of the NHS which EU procurement rules have allowed in my area.
“That’s what Jeremy ought to be on the front foot from now on demanding. It’s certainly what I am demanding of whoever the new Tory leader is and there is a mandate there from this extraordinary referendum for that.”
The Labour MP also revealed that he had received tweets accusing him of being racist because of his stance on Europe.
He said: “Total nonsense. I am not a racist, I am very active anti-racist and neither are my constituents who voted to leave and it’s rather condescending and patronising to suggest they are.
“Labour needs to get its head round the immigration argument.”
He added: “Mr Corbyn needs to spend a good amount of time with my Labour voters and others in the north of England understanding their aspirations, their views, their perspective.”
But the Bassetlaw MP distanced himself from calls from within the Parliamentary Labour Party for Mr Corbyn to resign as leader in the wake of Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to quit.
He said: “I think that’s a bit of distraction because the big issue is what the agenda should be. That is what’s critical now. One of the problems with the Labour Party we spend too much time looking at who does the job. We did it after the election defeat of 2015 and not enough time thinking through the lessons to be learned.”