Ed Miliband says UK can be more ‘progressive, equal and internationalist’ after Brexit

Jon Sharman
Ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband on the Andrew Marr Show: BBC

New protections for workers should be baked into Brexit legislation as a way of using Britain’s divorce from the EU to create a “progressive, more equal” country, Ed Miliband has said.

“Progressives have to get on the pitch” to prevent the right from dictating the terms of Brexit, the former Labour leader told Eddie Mair on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, during a Sunday morning media offensive.

It followed a joint column in The Observer in which, alongside Hilary Benn, he said Brexit was an opportunity “to argue for a Britain that will invest in infrastructure and take a new approach to industrial policy”, as well as to give cities more devolved power.

On Marr he said: “I think [the right wants] to use the referendum, or use the pretext of the referendum, to do things that weren’t the mandate of the referendum. Cut taxes, deregulate, slash workers’ rights. Progressives have to get on the pitch.

“I think progressive politics is harder with Brexit, significantly harder. But it’s not impossible. If you think about the 1945 Labour government, they came to power in the most dreadful circumstances, but they didn’t say, ‘It’s impossible to change things.’

“Let’s use the Brexit legislation to make the country more progressive. Let’s argue for stronger workers’ rights.”

“We must fight for a Britain standing with Europe as an internationalist country, working with our EU friends and neighbours on everything from dealings with Russia to helping refugees and combating climate change,” he and Mr Benn added in their column.

They said: “Many who believe heart and soul in the European ideal now pin their hopes on somehow reversing the result. We share this apprehension for the future, but we think there now needs to be a different approach.

“We need to give people hope and show there is a different way to prosperity and a fairer society. To achieve this we need to join the argument about what the referendum result meant and what the right vision is for our country.”