Wednesday, August 10

Jeremy Corbyn Under Fire: More Labour Resignations



More shadow ministers have announced resignations, heaping growing pressure on Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

The resignations come after a turbulent Sunday, which began with Mr Corbyn sacking shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn on learning he had apparently been planning his downfall.

Eleven other members of the shadow cabinet reacted by announcing their resignations during the day. This morning, those members have been followed by shadow foreign minister Diana Johnson, shadow minister for civil society Anna Turley and shadow armed forces minister Toby Perkins.

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Just minutes later, the news for Mr Corbyn worsened, with news that Chris Matheson, MP for Chester, was resigning as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the shadow justice team. Mr Matheson, a former Unite official, won his seat with a majority of fewer than 100 votes.

He was quickly followed by Stephen Kinnock resigning as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Angela Eagle, the shadow first secretary of state and shadow secretary of state for business, innovation and skills.

UK votes to leave the EU: what could happen next. Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle told Sky News he was also quitting his role as parliamentary aide to the shadow leader of the Commons in response to Mr Corbyn’s handling of the EU referendum campaign. Yesterday, Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander was the first to resign, telling Mr Corbyn in a letter: “I do not believe you have the capacity to shape the answers our country is demanding.”

She was followed just hours later by shadow children’s minister Gloria de Piero, shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray, shadow transport secretary Lilian Greenwood and shadow education secretary Lucy Powell.

Shadow environment secretary Kerry McCarthy, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Seema Malhotra, shadow Northern Ireland secretary Vernon Coaker, shadow Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer and Shadow Attorney General Karl Turner also quit.

In a stinging parting shot, former shadow leader of the Commons Chris Bryant – the last to resign on Sunday – warned Mr Corbyn that he was in danger of going down in history as “the man who broke the Labour Party”.

But in a defiant statement released on Sunday night, Mr Corbyn said: “I was elected by hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members and supporters with an overwhelming mandate for a different kind of politics. “I regret there have been resignations today from my shadow cabinet. “But I am not going to betray the trust of those who voted for me – or the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them.

“Those who want to change Labour’s leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate. A number of senior trade unionists on Labour’s ruling national executive committee have rallied in support of Mr Corbyn – including Unite leader Len McCluskey and Dave Ward of the Communication Workers Union.

And leadership loser and shadow home secretary Andy Burnham refused to take part in any attempt to unseat Mr Corbyn.

However Mr Corbyn now faces a vote of no confidence which will be discussed at the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party at Westminster on Monday, with a secret ballot of MPs expected the following day. The move is symbolic but may trigger a stalking horse candidate to emerge, or a full blown challenge.