'This was your second referendum - now get on with Brexit' - Sunderland council chief calls on MPs to deliver after bad night for Labour and Tories in European Parliament elections

MPs must treat the European election result as a second referendum result and get on with Brexit, the leader of Sunderland City Council has said.

Monday, 27th May 2019, 01:56 am
Councillor Graeme Miller

The Brexit Party gained two MEPs in the North East, and Labour lost one of the two European Parliament seats it held for the region.

Speaking at the count at the North East count at the Silksworth Tennis Centre, Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Miller said the results should send a stark message to Labour and Conservative MPs - and to those who want a second referendum on Brexit.

"We've just had it. I think tonight's result is like a second referendum," he said.

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"The Labour Party and the Conservative Party in Parliament must now come together and deliver the democratic will of the British people."

Some remain supporters, however, have claimed votes nationally so far show pro-remain parties getting a larger share of the vote than pro-Brexit parties.

He said the results on European election night had come as no surprise.

"I think anybody who has been surprised by tonight's vote has been living under a rock," he said.

"The vote in Sunderland is exactly what I expected it to be. The Labour Party vote went down, the Conservative vote went down much more. The Ukip vote transferred to The Brexit Party.

"That has been reflected across the whole North East."

Coun Miller said voters had vented their anger at the two main parties failure to deliver Brexit, and Labour and the Conservatives now must move forward with Britain's exit from the EU.

The council leader said he favoured the Labour Party's manifesto policy of keeping the UK in a customs union with the EU as it would protect jobs.

The council leader said areas such as Sunderland, which has a large employer exporting to Europe, such as Nissan, were particularly susceptible to the impact of impeded trade between the UK and EU.

He said Sunderland has suffered over the last 30 years with the loss of coal, ship building and glass industries and could not afford to lose other large employers.

He added that a bad Brexit deal would not hit Sunderland straight away, but would have a "terrible" impact over the next seven-to-ten years.

"We've seen Honda, we've seen British Steel. We've seen Jamie Oliver's restaurants.

"You can't say that Brexit isn't having an impact. We've got to protect jobs."

Coun Miller added that the North East had lost an excellent MEP in Labour's Paul Brannen, who was voted out, but the party's hard work would be continued by its reelected representative Jude Kirton-Darling.