Ed Miliband Talked Brexit At Glastonbury And Tried To Offer Some Hope – Here’s What We Learned

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell both cancelled their scheduled appearances at the Green Futures field shortly after the dust settled on Brexit (presumably someone at Labour HQ realised Glastonbury probably wasn’t the best place for a would-be PM and his Shadow Chancellor to be on the day after the pound tumbled to an historic 30-year low). Former Labour leader Ed Miliband did make it out to Speakers Forum, however – ostensibly, he was here to give a talk about climate change and green energy, but Brexit was what everyone in the crowd wanted to ask about: where do we go from here? Who do we hold responsible? And what does this all mean for Britain’s political future? Here’s what we learned from Miliband’s question-and-answer session…

Labour must come to terms with the new political reality – and quickly

Vast numbers of voters living in what used to be known as ‘Labour Heartlands’ voted for Brexit against the urgings of their own party, and Miliband believes those votes must be respected: “Progressives must accept the result and accept that the people have spoken,” he says. “I personally wish this hadn’t happened, but the task of my politics is to say – now that it has happened, how do we shape this in a progressive way?” He says that the Brexit vote was made “on the basis of much deeper issues going on in people’s lives. It goes way beyond Westminster politics: it’s about what peole see in their own lives, feeling like the country isn’t working for them. And as a progressive party, we are not the people to defend the status quo.”

We must look to ‘rescue’ the good parts of the EU

Asked about the angst and fear being felt amongst young people – 75 percent of whom voted to Remain – Miliband says he understands “why you feel annoyed and unhappy about what the older generation have done” and believes that Labour “has got to do everything we can to protect your ability to go and work, study and live in other EU countries. One of the most important things we need to do is, to as best we can, rescue the things we liked about the EU and make them part of whatever settlement there is in future. We’ve got to do everything we can to maintain these opportunities for young people. I promise that we’ll try and do that.”

We need to focus on a positive vision for Brexit

“There’s a Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage vision of Brexit,” begins Miliband, “and it’s all about the free market and the minimal state, about getting rid of environmental regulations, workers rights and all of that. But because there was a very small number of people campaigning for Leave on the progressive side of the argument, that vision is not there yet, and our task is to come up with it.” He believes “there is a battle on now: who can grab the mantle of the kind of change we need in Britain”” and insists that “the script is yet to be written. Frankly, the Labour movement has faced even bigger challenges than this, and I think we can rise to that challenge. We know the kind of world we want to build – a fairer world, a more just world, a more equal world – and we know the kind of world we’ve got to leave behind, which is of free-market neoliberalism.”

He doesn’t agree that Jeremy Corbyn Didn’t Do Enough During The Campaign

Labour leader Corbyn has been roundly criticised for running a half-hearted campaign to Remain, and now faces a vote of No Confidence from his own MPs. Miliband insists Corbyn “made the case in his own way” and draws applause from the crowd when he pledges to support him. “After standing down as leader, my view was that I should support whoever came after me, and that’s still the right thing for me to do,” he says, before adding that, “the parliamentary party and the party members will have to make their own decision. There’s a collective responsibility here, and it goes a lot deeper than the few weeks of a referendum campaign. These were grievances that were building up since the last Labour government and beyond, so to hold one particular person responsible – that’s not how I see it.”

After David Cameron’s Resignation, a snap election is ‘absolutely winnable’ for Labour

It’s a measure of just how miserable David Cameron’s premiership has been that the left couldn’t even cheer his demise – not when something even worse was on the way in the shape of Boris Johnson. Should there be another general election in the near future, however, Miliband stresses that, “the Remain side shouldn’t think that all those people voted for them because they were happy with the way things were going under David Cameron – a lot of people voted Remain while holding their nose, as the least-worst option. Those are people who can be mobilised [in an election]. I got out of the prediction business in 2015, but I think it’s absolutely winnable for Labour. It’s absolutely all to play for.”

Bastille, Two Door Cinema Club and Blossoms react to Brexit news