Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said Labour should take hope from the ‘stunning’ German election result – and attacked Boris Johnson’s ‘profoundly cynical and pessimistic view of the people of this country’
Labour could be back “in power in 18 months time” and must go out with “confidence and courage of our convictions”, a senior frontbencher has said.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said the party should take hope from the “stunning result” in the German elections where the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have claimed victory over Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
She said the result showed how quickly political tides can turn and expressed optimism for the next election.
Boris Johnson won power until 2024 but there has been speculation in Westminster that he could push for an early election in 2023.
Ms Nandy made the comments at a Labour conference event, where she also revealed plans to visit Israel and Palestine in her first official overseas trip as Shadow Foreign Secretary.
Asked about the German election result, Ms Nandy said: “The biggest lesson is never ever believe that it’s not possible. We have been out of power in Westminster for 11 years.
“But we are in power in so many of the major towns and cities around this country. We are showing the difference we can make.”
She pointed to the extraordinary work done by local councils to house Afghan refugees over the summer.
“Never let them tell us that we’re powerless. Never let them tell us that it can’t be done,” she said.
“Look at what’s happened in Germany. Look how quickly things change and things move.
“We think there is going to be a general election, possibly in 2023.
“So we could be in power in 18 months time and that is the lesson that I take from what happened 18 months ago [the 2019 election].”
She urged Labour to go out with “confidence and the courage of our convictions” to win the next election.
Boris Johnson has a “profoundly cynical and pessimistic view of the people of this country” despite his “grand optimism”, she said.
“You can see it in all the attempts to stoke division in the country, the way in which he thought he could use the statue of Churchill to stoke some kind of culture war.
“Back home in Wigan people just said, ‘What’s he going on about a statue for? What’s that got to do with anything?’
She accused the PM of “stereotyping all these areas where you can use racism and LGBT rights to stoke up division”.
And she said Labour had to do more to fight for the “silent majority and the quiet patriotism that they have” rather than allowing the Tories to stoke the so-called culture war.
In a wide-ranging event on foreign policy, Ms Nandy said she would urge her new opposite number Liz Truss to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia.
She also said the UK should use its diplomatic clout in the battle against climate change by shutting out countries from who refuse to sign up to green targets.
And she restated her opposition to signing trade deals with countries that haven’t signed up to the Paris climate agreement.
Ms Nandy criticised reports that the UK had dropped certain climate commitments to secure a free trade deal with Australia.
She told delegates: “That is precisely the wrong approach. We should be using trade as a tool to lift other countries’ standards and to help pitch the world towards progress.”