Barry Gardiner’s Brexit speech moves to defend ‘demonised’ Leave voters on immigration issue

Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner

Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Brent North MP Barry Gardiner scolded divisive Remain and Leave campaigners in a speech before Tuesday’s “meaningful vote”.

Saying immigration is a “vital element” of the UK’s economic growth, he told the Commons he was “outraged by the dog-whistle politics of the Vote Leave campaign’s very own Project Fear: that millions of Turkish citizens would be queuing up for entry into the UK,” which he said “was a lie”.

But he added: “I also want to express my disgust at those who have sought to paint Leave voters as ignorant racists; it is that sort of demonisation of our fellow citizens that is so damaging to the discourse around Brexit.

“It precisely obscures some of the real concerns Leave voters did express, and had every right to. Their concerns were about the lack of housing, the strains on the NHS, and being undercut in the workplace by unscrupulous employers who often exploited migrants and paid them less than the minimum wage. [T]hose issues will not be solved by our leaving the EU, but they will also not be solved by our remaining.”

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