Niall McCrae: Labour MP Caroline Flint is a hero of the Brexit revolution

Labour MP Caroline Flint is fired up. And this is why. It’s a talk at Policy Exchange by Professor Richard Tuck, a leading political analyst at Harvard. He’s an intellectual sophisticate, who challenges the audience with a stimulating lecture, taking a broad historical perspective before focusing on the present dilemma of Britain’s faltering exit from the EU. ‘Brexit: a Prize in Reach for the Left’ is a revelation.

In the afterglow of Jeremy Corbyn’s electoral success, ex-Newsnight business editor Paul Mason said something very instructive about the Left and Brexit. All those MPs who want a social democratic centre-right Labour committed to staying in the EU should pack their bags and start their own party. This from the man who recently produced an anti-Brexit play at the Young Vic theatre. Mason’s comment didn’t get much coverage on mainstream news, which is fixated on Tory troubles in honouring the plebiscite against a powerful Remain establishment. But the wind has turned, and the fickle young are fleetest of foot. Did you see many EU flags fluttering at Glastonbury this year?

Everyone knows Corbyn is no EU fanatic. But Labour is on the cusp of power, with a weakened Tory government that could topple at any moment, whether by internal strife or a ‘dear boy’ event that becomes the tipping point. Exploiting the discord in May’s cabinet and the tortuous EU negotiations seems an open goal. But that would be a major tactical error for Labour, according to Professor Tuck. Short-term gain from demanding a softer Brexit would come at a heavy price for Corbynite socialism.

Nationalisation of utility companies; barring private companies from NHS contracts; an industrial strategy that favours local workers. None of these are feasible within the neoliberal EU superstructure. Student debts cancelled? Under EU law, this would mean putting public money into the pockets of lawyers and other rich alumni of British universities living lavishly on the Continent.

Since Jacques Delors lured trade unionists to Brussels and Blairite Labour turned to global capitalism and open immigration, the EU has been seen as a bulwark of workers’ and minority rights against our own democratically-elected Parliament. Particularly when the outcome of democracy is a Conservative government.

Khalid Mahmood, MP for Perry Barr, disagrees with the lecture. We should stay in the EU, he opines, thereby ‘locking us in’ and preventing the benefits of a Labour government being overturned by a successive Tory administration.  He’s given short shrift by Tuck. The idea of denying the electorate a right to change their minds is dangerous. Totalitarianism often begins with a slim electoral win, reinforced by increasingly oppressive measures and eventually ending in poverty, corruption and violence: Venezuela, for example. Mahmood appears to see democracy as a means to an end.

The closing address is by ex-minister of the New Labour years, Caroline Flint. As Don Valley MP, her local campaign for Remain was hammered, with immigration the overriding concern. You can imagine exasperated shoppers in Frenchgate, asking her: ‘Why must we keep letting these people in, taking our jobs and homes?’ And now Flint not merely accepts Brexit, but is an active proponent for our departure. Having listened and learned from her constituents, she has no time for Labour people who want the most destructive outcome for the EU exit. Try putting that on an election leaflet, she quips.

Flint lampoons Tony Blair, and while omitting any mention of her party leader, she clearly agrees with Professor Tuck that Corbyn gets it on Europe, and Starmer doesn’t. Her startlingly honest appraisal of the recent election suggests that Corbyn is right on Europe but wrong on northern working class sentiment. This segment of society turned to the Tories in their droves: the mining town of Mansfield and the steelworkers of Middlesbrough flashed up on the BBC screen as ‘Con Gain’. Remarkably, the Beast of Bolsover was nearly dethroned by the Tory nemesis. If Labour devotes itself to the privileged middle class and minority rights, it will fall short at the ballot box (by the way, how does students stealing second votes look to poor tenants of Doncaster’s Hyde Park?).

In a stark message, Flint urges her party to commit to Brexit, and end free movement. For too long Labour has been dominated by hectoring headmistress types who try to mould the electorate into the correct viewpoint, forgetting that they serve us – not the other way around. If Labour fails to tap into the thoughts and fears of ordinary folk, a new party of the Left will emerge. As Flint speaks I’m thinking of Anne Marie Waters, director of Sharia Watch, who has put her hat in the ring for Ukip leadership - again, uncovered by the mainstream media, but a soaring internet phenomenon.

There is nothing extreme in fulfilling voters’ wishes. Instead of the divisive and disgraceful insults about pig-ignorant Brexiteers in towns that time forgot, Flint comes across as a genuinely representing her people in Parliament. Unlike those metropolitan liberals incongruently based in safe Yorkshire seats, Flint has grounded herself in her community. Good on her.

(Image: Policy Exchange)

Niall McCrae

  • Bik Byro

    Labour voter sentiments over Brexit are the perfect litmus test over the “two labour parties” theory.
    The Islington coffee shop labour voters love immigration because they get cheap babysitters, plumbers and people to serve them lattes and quinoa sandwiches at Pret.
    The working class labour voters hate immigration because they get threats to their already low paid and insecure work which they need to feed their families and keep a proud roof over their heads.

    • Groan

      As you have pointed out there are two parts to this, taking control and what one will do with that control. At the moment Corbyn actually has an answer to the second part, even if that sounds like the 1970s to me. The challenge for Conservatives and conservatives is to indicate they have some ideas about this too.

    • Shazza

      “The Islington coffee shop labour voters love immigration” are not subjected to the real, damaging effect this is having on social cohesion; it is not their children who are struggling to find school places, they do not feel like strangers in their own towns, private health care saves them from the NHC waiting lists – etc. etc.

      For them, as perfectly illustrated by the likes of Gary Lineker, Yvette Cooper it offers an opportunity to virtue signal on a grand scale.

      • Bik Byro

        I’ve just seen on the news what the sanctimonious Gary Lineker earns in a year.

        • IanE

          ‘earns’ ???

          • Bik Byro

            er, yeah OK, I see what you mean

        • Mojo

          Don’t you mean steals from the taxpayer!!!! I hardly call presenting a sports programme working for a salary.

          • gelert

            I wonder if his tweets are scripted by the people who write his on-air “jokes”.

          • Jeremy Poynton

            You know, you don’t HAVE to have a TV.

          • Bik Byro

            True. But the issue is, however, that if you do enjoy watching the many other channels on TV and never watch a millisecond of BBC you still have to pay the TV tax to line these peoples’ wallets.

          • Jeremy Poynton

            Ner. TVLA – that is, Capita, have no rights to enter your premises unless you allow them to.

            Start here –

          • Bik Byro

            Or “Crapita” as Private Eye call them

    • MrVeryAngry

      Yes. But. Indigenous UK workers are not ‘low paid’ at all. On any international comparison they are very well paid. The problem is that 50% of those wages are taken in tax and half the balance – at least – goes in ‘rent’. Immigrants undercut because they operate in ways that are not so vulnerable to those tax and rent issues – multiple house occupancy with multiple earners for example.

      • Nobody

        Multiple house occupancy with multiple welfare recipients.

  • Colkitto03

    I have heard Flint talking about Brexit and she has been impressive. How encouraging to see someone flexible enough to listen to voters and change their mind.

    There is a big media narrative being driven at present asking ‘can Brexit be reversed’? Will Brexit happen?’
    Caroline Flint understands that if Brexit does not proceed there will be a massive collapse of confidence in democracy in this country. The consequences of any failure to Brexit will be a huge irreversible mistrust of the MSM, our politicians and our London elite.

    • UKCitizen

      She is a politician and by definition if her mouth is moving she is lying. Being also of the left she is ideologically driven and therefore likely to indulge in Taqiya or has seen some other advantage that furthers her particular brand of dogma.

      • sirnigelgresley

        She underwent a Damascene conversion after her general election majority was halved and she suddenly remembered her constituency had voted two to one to leave the EU.

  • martianonlooker

    I am sorry but this does not compute. There is a snowball’s chance in hell that I would trust one of Blair’s babes in any shape or form. Then throw in the fact that she was an ‘equal opps’ officer (later superseded by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion officer) and what comes through loud and clear is that a Leopard cannot change its spots.

    • Jeremy Poynton

      Regardless, what she says is true.

  • misomiso

    I was a Left wing Vote Leaver, and I agree with this article.

    In general though, you guys at Conservative woman should embrace the Left more on economics, but stay right on social issues (immigration, nation etc).

    There is no social justice in having a bad / underfunded NHS or educaiton system. Reform it drastically yes, but raise taxes if you have to.

    After all the only people who win the low tax liberal nirvana are those who are already rich.

    • sfin

      There is no ‘social justice’ in having any state welfare system like the NHS at all.

      Study after study has shown that state welfare systems trap those who use them most in relative poverty. All state welfare systems require generation-on-generation population growth in order to sustain them – making them inherently unsustainable.

      I think most conservatives would agree that a civilised country should provide a ‘safety net’ for those of its citizens who are unable to help themselves. But most conservatives would also foster individual self reliance, recognising as they do, that if you allow the state to provide for the citizen (with ‘free’ health care for example), then you end up with an infantilised society.

      • simonstephenson

        You can’t win this argument against committed Leftists, because once they realise they have to acknowledge that the bad consequences of welfare can outweigh the good ones, they deny that consequentialism is a valid method of determining ethical right/wrong, and retreat into deontology, where it is the quality of the act itself, rather than its consequences, that is the determining factor.

        I don’t have a problem with the Left making deontological arguments, but I do object strongly when, as happens all too frequently, they seek to gild the lily (or cheat, perhaps?) by pretending that they are basing their judgements in consequentialism, only to scarper when it is pointed out to them that consequentialism necessitates the unbiased evaluation of ALL the consequences, not just the ones favourable to the Left’s cause.

        • sfin


          But we must continue to make the argument. The left have succeeded in its ‘long march through the institutions’.

          We have to fight to retake this ground.

      • Jeremy Poynton

        The welfare state will bring down the UK, the EU and the USA. Well on its way already.

    • Shazza

      Oh dear.

      “…embrace the Left more on economics” you mean like Corbyn’s late mate Hugo Chavez? If you believe this, you better start stocking up on the loo paper.
      Regarding your slur regarding low tax, it is a fact that if punitive taxes are imposed on the wealth creators, they will flee the country; even Macron is going to lower France’s Corporation tax rate. Bear in mind, it is the private sector that creates wealth, the public sector consumes wealth.

      “..bad / underfunded NHS or education system.” (BTW it should be called the International Health Service).

      As I said on another thread – you cannot have a Welfare State and Open Borders.

      There are too many people using the various public institutions and too few contributing toward them. A point to remember is this, when the net immigration figures are released annually, they do not reflect the fact that indigenous skilled British workers are fleeing in their droves to pastures new and that in the main, they are being replaced with largely unskilled third world immigrants – an inconvenient fact is that it is not skilled and hardworking EU immigration that are not contributing toward the Chancellor’s coffers.

      • You guys invented the concept, but we coined the phrase, “Making money” which is what the private sector and only the private sector, does. Governments can only run (invariably badly) that which somebody else creates, because no bureaucrat ever invented a thing, as far as I know, maybe. Even today, defense improvements come about because of the the private armaments companies. There was a reason why Enfield bought their assembly lines (back in the 1800s) from Springfield, which had close contacts with our arms makers, and were still behind the curve.

      • Nobody

        So true, the majority of Muslims in this country are living off the welfare state.

        It can only end in tears.

    • Jeremy Poynton

      OK. So tell me the last time the NHS received an injection of money – and improved. I’m happy to wait whilst you do some research. It will take you some time. It’s not the money, it’s the hidebound bureaucratic structure. After a certain size, and after a certain time, ALL bureaucracies exist to serve themselves, and not those who fund it.

      The moment long passed with regard to these NHS. Until somebody takes it by the balls and slashes through the deadwood management which infests (thanks Blair, you unmentionable ****) the NHS, any further money will be pissed away.

  • Jolly Radical

    Hmm. A Damascene conversion to the way of truth . . . or a cynical ploy to save her neck from her own constituents?

    I know which one I suspect.

    • Little Black Censored

      I also watched the tv discussion in which she took part and found her realistic and convincing, having in the past not agreed with her at all.

      • manofthepeepl

        I would also point out that she’s an intellectual giant compared with the current shadow front bench…

  • Ravenscar

    Mahmood appears to see democracy as a means to an end.

    oh, it would be the end alright, the end of Britain, forever.

    Mahmood, there’s only one party for him, he’s another entryist but not ex the far left.

  • PipG

    She has simply taken someone else’s ball and is now running with it.
    I suspect she would run with anything if it would advance her career.

  • Felt

    Flint. The socialists idea of ‘totty’. She has never, nor ever will, have an original, well considered idea in her head. Please don’t hold her up as a hero. It’s the villains hiding in the shadows and trying to derail LEAVE that need exposing. Not ‘totty’.

    • siphil

      It’s all relative. Compared to the likes of Umunna, Starmer and co, she is a credit to her party in realising the side she supported lost the vote and now we must get on with Brexit.

    • Colonel Hadley

      arguably she could be listening and responding to her constituent’s wishes.

  • Mojo

    Caroline Flint is jumping on a band wagon. She has noticed. Like most of us that Ann Marie Waters’ star is rising. She realises that the population is shifting. They are sick and tired of empty rhetoric by Theresa May. All the talk over the terrorist attacks and still nothing concrete has been done. It has taken bloggers to bring the media’s attention to many stories. It has taken the government months to understand that this country wants to move forward and still Westminster is fighting old battles.

    Caroline Flint is picking up on those vibes. She hopes that UKIP NEC will block her candidacy but most ‘kippers understand her and want to see a change in UKIP. The hustings are happening this weekend and look to be an exciting event. I doubt any mainstream media will follow it.

    The names coming through are those who care deeply for this country. Those who oppose much of what Westminster and London stand for. Brexit has in fact done a great service to our wonderful island. It will wash away the career politician and we will see truly democratic candidates from differing viewpoints being elected. The Labour Party will change and Mr Corbyn will go because the students are fickle and ideological. I do not think it will be the student fee promise that will be his downfall because that will be turned around as the fault of the conservatives. It will be something seemingly small like the rise of Jacob Rees Mogg that everyone in London will make fun of ignore, yet the whole country starts to unite behind him.

    It will give the likes of Ann Marie Waters the chance to take on the disaffected labour heartlands and the young who are leaving university without a hope of getting a decent wage. Politics has not been so exciting or unpredictable in 60 years.

    • Shazza

      Sadly, Ann Marie Waters will not be elected as leader of UKIP – she was prevented from standing as a potential MP so I don’t know how she will be able to achieve it.

      The MSM studiously ignores her much as they and the politicians ignore the elephant in the room which day by day, is growing in size.

      • Mojo

        Yes I agree in principle. However, there is much talk among us ‘kippers. We also have a problem in that many of the leaders putting their hat in the ring are too Londoncentric. They wish to seduce the London media but the members are moving away from London. We want a party for the country and she has been honest about the problems occurring outside London. She has also done a lot of work on Sharia Law and I do believe the feminists have shown themselves up in a very bad light over this. I include Theresa May in this too. If we can pull in more Muslim women who wish to open up this debate I think UKIP can cross a divide.

        But most importantly she is a Brexiteer and talks strongly on many issues. She is an honest speaker and has not hidden her dealings with the Labour Party and communism. But through all she wants our country to function well again. Her honesty may win her the day. Nigel Farage thinks she may be too much too soon, but I think, as Ann Widdecombe said the other night, sometimes you think the time isn’t right but if all the signs are telling you something is broken then the time is certainly right.

        • Little Black Censored

          Part of the trouble is that it is not acceptable to otherwise sensible people to say that there is something instrinscically wrong with Islam as a system of belief and social organization: Andrew Neil and Peter Oborne, for example.

          • Naviro

            Peter Oborne is laying the groundwork to be granted dhimmi status after he helps transform the UK into an islamo-marxist state.

        • Shazza

          With a bit of luck and apologies to Shakespeare, maybe it will be

          “Cometh the hour,
          Cometh the woman”.

      • Mill House

        She will achieve it if a majority of UKIP members such as myself vote for her. Quite simple really.

        • Shazza

          I sincerely hope she wins.

  • Little Black Censored

    Amusing cartoon by Heath in the Spectator.

  • Arthur Peacock

    Unfortunately, Mansfield isn’t a mining town, nor has it been since the sainted Thatcher wiped out the coal industry in the 1980s.

    • Dougie
      • Arthur Peacock

        I was there.

    • Jeremy Poynton

      You are aware, of course, that Harold Wilson closed more mines than Thatcher. You have to remember – it’s now WHAT is done, it’s who did it. Obama can be seen on YouTube saying that illegal immigrants should be treated in just the way Trump is dealing with them. Trump does it and everyone goes nuts. Take a step back and look from afar. Scargill’s ego is what screwed the miners.

      • Kaiser

        and if the coal industry did still exist all you mong red/green morons would now be replacing it with chinese solar panels

        • jb

          Which will be cheaper to buy if we leave the EU

      • Colonel Hadley

        Absolutely! Scargill envisaged himself as a revolutionary hero and thought he could bring down a democratically elected Conservative government, he exploited the miners to try and do this and failed utterly. Corbyn and his Momentum lunatics are trying something similar at present.

    • John Birch

      Unfortunately the coal under our country is very poor quality and dirty in emissions.
      Coal from South Africa and Australia burns extremely cleanly and has very little emissions.
      That’s the reason why Denmark imports from those countries and stopped buying ours.
      Even in this country to be just able to meet emissions regulations we were importing the same countries coal and mixing it 50-50 with our coal.
      Emission regulations shut the power stations Just as foreign competitors forced the closure of shipbuilding yards.
      The left used the narrative of wicked conservatives did those things, but it was as untrue as they put all the dockers out of work .
      What did that was containerisation , and that happened all over the world.

    • Wilson closed more mines in 5 years than Thatcher did in 11.

      • Arthur Peacock

        People usually forget to mention that the mines Wilson closed were exhausted, whereas the mines Thatcher closed were still productive.

  • MiffedBrigade

    If anything, isn’t she a “heroine”?

    • jb

      Absolutely correct. You would think that feminists would use the word more often to draw attention to the fact that the heroic person in question was a WOMAN.

    • Niall McCrae

      I’m reminded of the Iceland frozen food slogan a few years ago: ‘Because Mums are heroes’. It was a gender error on two counts: first it denied the female form (heroine) and second it assumed that dads never do shopping or cooking. I doubt if the latter would causer concern for ASA, for whom sexism is always unidirectional.

  • The rearguard Remain campaign is running out of room for manoeuvre now. Even Saint Jezza’s on our side, even if he can’t actually come out and say so for fear of upsetting his mindless teenage followers.