Sunderland’s Brexit voters’ views must be respected, says new miners’ leader

Durham Miners' Association secretary president Alan Mardghum.
Durham Miners' Association secretary president Alan Mardghum.

A new union leader says Brexit must be delivered to uphold democracy and respect the result of the EU referendum - but has also warned about the rise of right-wing political groups.

Alan Mardghum, who has taken on the double role of secretary and president of Durham Miners’ Association, has said those who voted for the UK’s departure from the European Union must be respected.

Bridget Phillipson

Bridget Phillipson

But while he slammed the Conservative government for its handling of Brexit he also called into question the actions of Bridget Phillipson, Houghton and Sunderland South’s MP, who has been among those to call for a second referendum as part of the People’s Vote movement.

The former Monkwearmouth Colliery powerloader also insists everything must be done to keep the far right from grasping political power, and ahead of this month’s European elections, has accused Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage of captialising on dissatisfaction for his own gain.

Mr Farage will address a Brexit Party rally to be held on Wearside this Saturday.

Read more: Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party to hold rally on outskirts of Sunderland this weekend

Mr Mardghum, who backed the remain campaign during the 2016 referendum, likened Ms Phillipson’s situation to his own when he was lodge secretary of Monkwearmouth, when he would argue the case his members had pushed for, even if he did not share their view.

I think it’s very hard for working people, the uncertainty is very damaging.

Alan Mardghum

Related: Elections in Sunderland: What MP Bridget Phillipson said about the results

He added the Labour Party would have ensured a withdrawal agreement on better terms than the deal so far.

“Being from Sunderland, I support the people who voted to leave, that was a democratic vote,” he said.
“People who say we need a People’s Vote, what we had in June 2016 was the people’s vote, what do they want, the best of three?

“What happened if it went the other way? 52%, 48%, would that be inconclusive as well?

“I saw Bridget Phillipson was saying Labour had lost out in the local election.

“She was saying she is looking for a People’s Vote, but straight away that undermines that democratic vote.”

Mr Mardghum fears division over the issue will create a space where the far right could thrive.

He added: “I voted remain, but that was in the minority, and they have played down this majority.

“It was the job of politicians to see that was mandated and unfortunately they have let us down and I think it’s very hard for working people, the uncertainty is very damaging.

“Unfortunately, we have now got European elections - we should never have had these elections - but there’s going to be because of the incompetency of this Government.

“I would urge people to vote Labour because the alternative is the far right party we have got coming through.

“You’ve got Farage and people like that and we need to bring these politicians to account.

“I just urge people to think and take action and vote Labour, vote anything but Farage and these other parties that are coming about.

“Farage has objected to it that much he’s on the gravy train of Europe and so the only way we should be voting is to vote as left as we are comfortable with - if that means voting Green, so be it, but I advocate voting Labour, but anything but the far right.”