150,000 members desert Labour in Brexit backlash

Labour membership ‘plunges by 150,000’ amid backlash over Corbyn’s handling of Brexit

-Labour membership has slumped to around 385,000, insiders have claimed

-In 2017 the number of people signed up to the party was more than 500,000

-Corbyn has angered his activists by resisting calls for a second EU referendum

-Labour leader does not want to lose Labour Brexit voters in the north of England

The Labour Party is haemorrhaging members amid a growing backlash over Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit, according to party insiders.

At the height of Corbyn’s popularity following the general election in 2017, Labour was considered the “largest party in western Europe” with more than 500,000 members.

In recent months, however, it has lost up to 150,000 members, according to three sources within the party. It is estimated that up to 100,000 are not up to date with their subs and enrolment has slumped to around 385,000.

A Labour insider said the downswing had already cost around £6m. “The party is skint,” the source said. “There have already been some recriminations about the amount spent on last summer’s botched music festival Labour Live.

Mr Corbyn has angered many of his MPs and activists by refusing to endorse a new referendum that could stop Brexit – insisting he wants an election and to deliver Brexit on his own terms.

Many Labour voters in the north of England voted Leave and Mr Corbyn faces losing votes either way – but polls suggest hesitation is also irritating the electorate.

The source told the Sunday Times: ‘The party is skint. There have already been some recriminations about the amount spent on last summer’s botched music festival Labour Live.

‘Although there is always some dropoff in membership after big events like general elections, or a leadership contest, this is more than you would ordinarily expect and has led many of us to think it’s linked to Jeremy’s unpopular stance on Brexit.’

A source said Labour could even struggle to fund a new election battle if Mr Corbyn achieves his desire to force one.

They said: ‘A second referendum would be welcomed by much of the party’s remaining membership and help avoid a further drain on its dwindling coffers,’ they added.

Party general secretary Jennie Formby said the reports were a ‘total fabrication’ while shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett insisted membership was rising every week.

Ms Formby said: ‘More people are joining Labour every week than resigning.

‘I’m proud to be GS of a mass membership party that is building a social movement for change.’

Mr Trickett said: ‘The suggestion that we have lost large numbers of members in one of today’s papers is totally untrue.

‘As a member of Labours NEC I can say this with absolute certainty. In fact, at the present time we are still growing each week, and each month.’

In a signal of continued splits, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer yesterday hinted that Labour could campaign for a second referendum if an agreement on the Brexit deal isn’t struck by the end of the month.

Mr Starmer also again made it clear that he believed that in the event of a second referendum, the option of remaining in the EU must be on the ballot paper.

He said: ‘I don’t think it is any secret I firmly believe there should be a Remain option – and there has to be a genuine Leave option.’

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