COVENTRY, WEST MIDLANDS — Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown appears to have conceded that his party will lose the forthcoming general election.
Speaking to Labour party members at Coventry University on Thursday morning, Brown urged voters to back Labour candidates who will “hold the government to account” and be “advocates” for the West Midlands in parliament.
Strikingly, he failed to mention the prospect of a Labour government, despite the election taking place in less than a month and the party’s manifesto being leaked this week.
He continually urged local people to vote for Labour candidates who will scrutinise the government on Brexit and other issues, inferring that he believes the Conservatives will win the election on June 8. He added that Labour supporters must not “lose courage” in difficult times for the party.
Brown was at the university to speak about the importance of manufacturing to Coventry in light of the Brexit vote.
He said Britain needs “champions in parliament” who will advocate the importance of tariff-free access to the European single market, rather than MPs who are “dogma-ridden” on the question of the European Union.
Labour’s last prime minister said Labour voters must turn out in numbers to prevent current prime minister Theresa May being given a “blank cheque” to do “whatever she wants” in negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU.
“Mrs May has called an election on a single issue,” Brown said.
“She wants this election to strengthen her hand in Europe. But we don’t know what her hand is. She wants a free hand. She wants us to give her a blank cheque, to do exactly what she wants. Nobody in this city can afford to give her a blank cheque when the future of manufacturing and jobs for young people are such crucial issues.”
The former MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath unleashed a scathing attack on the parties rivalling Labour in the election.
“The Tories wake up in the morning and think how the market will work for them. The Liberals will wake up in the morning thinking about coalitions and how to get in government because they will never have enough people voting for them. I don’t know if UKIP people wake up in the morning because I don’t know if there is any of them left.”
Brown’s Brexit trade vision
He also stressed the importance of Britain negotiating a “frictionless” free trade arrangement with the 28-nation bloc.
“We hear a lot about the ECJ and how we must push it out the way and we hear a lot about the single market and how it’s not right for Britain. Which minister and which candidates are talking about the future of manufacturing and how much it depends on trade with the European Union.
“It’s in the interests of Britain to negotiate free trade with the EU without taxation and customs regulations. We need tariff-free access to the EU. Paying tariffs would make us less competitive and maybe even uncompetitive. we need frictionless access for parts and components to move freely throughout Europe.”
NOW WATCH: Donald Tusk to UK: ‘we already miss you’
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.