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Live: Shadow Cabinet Collapses As Members Resign Over Corbyn’s Brexit Performance

19 members of the shadow cabinet have resigned or been fired since Sunday morning after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn failed to deliver an ‘In’ vote in the UK’s European Union membership referendum.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party looks increasingly imperilled as:

  • Fired: Foreign secretary Hilary Benn was fired by leader Jeremy Corbyn
  • Resigned: Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander — “change of leadership is essential”
  • Resigned: Shadow minister for young people Gloria Del Piero
  • Resigned: Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray — called the dismissal of Benn “the final straw”
  • Resigned: Shadow transport secretary Lillian Greenwood
  • Resigned: Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell
  • Resigned: Shadow environment secretary Kerry McCarthy
  • Resigned: Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Seema Malhotra
  • Resigned: Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Vernon Coaker
  • Resigned: Shadow Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer
  • One-third of the Shadow cabinet has now left…
  • Resigned: Shadow Attorney General Karl Turner
  • Resigned: Shadow Commons leader Chris Bryant — “We need someone new to unite and lead”
  • Resigned: Shadow armed forces secretary Toby Perkins
  • Resigned: Shadow minister for civil society Anna Turley
  • Resigned: Shadow FCO minister Diana Johnson
  • Resigned: Shadow business secretary Stephen Kinnock
  • Resigned: Shadow Cabinet Office minister Wayne David
  • Resigned: Shadow minister for local government Steve Read
  • Resigned: Shadow consumer minister Yvonne Fovargue
  • Resigned: Shadow minister for the natural environment Alex Cunningham
  • Two-thirds of the Shadow cabinet have now left…
  • Resigned: Shadow housing minister Roberta Blackman-Woods
  • Resigned: Shadow education minister Jenny Chapman
  • Resigned: Shadow climate change secretary Lisa Nandy
  • Resigned: Shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith
  • Resigned: Shadow Wales office minister Susan Jones

Live Updates:

1305 — Shadow Wales Office Minister steps down 
Remarking that she could not “back a Leader who doesn’t command any real electoral support outside the M25”, Shadow Wales Office Minister Susan Jones said today: “Yr wyf yn ymddiswyddo fel Gweinidog Swyddfa Gymreig i’r Wrthblaid”.

 

1250 — Prospect of another SDP-Labour style split over Corbyn 
Speaking to the BBC resigned shadow minister Owen Smith has joined others in warning of the Labour party splitting over Corbyn. He said: I went into this morning’s meeting with Jeremy hoping not to resign, hoping that I was going to hear a plan to bring the party back together. And I’m afraid I didn’t hear that from him.

“I think we are at a moment where we desperately need a strong Labour Party. It feels that the collision between the people who’re seeking to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn and the people who are trying to stick in there in Jeremy Corbyn’s team risks breaking the Labour Party”.

1215 — Further resignations, Corbyn clings on 
Shadow housing minister Roberta Blackman-Woods, shadow education minister Jenny Chapman, Shadow energy and climate change secretary Lisa Nandy and shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith have all resigned, leaving Corbyn with almost none of his original cabinet left. Despite that, he is showing no intention of resigning at all and is building a new team to replace those leavers.

Fresh in the job this morning, new shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald told the BBC that Mr. Corbyn had a clear mandate from the Labour members, and it was time the parliamentary party recognised that. He said: “Absolutely he should stay. He has a mandate to stay. It was only nine short months ago that he was elected with a massive majority. And I know that he hasn’t been popular across the [Parlimantary Labour Party]. That’s the understatement of the year. But it’s the members who overwhelmingly embraced Jeremy’s narrative. And I think some of my colleagues need to completely recognise that”.

1040 — Shadow minister for the natural environment resigns 
Alex Cunningham MP has stood down from the shadow cabinet taking the total to 20 firings and resignations — leaving Mr. Corbyn with just one third of the team he had on Sunday.

0930 — Corbyn appoints new cabinet 
Even as old allies drop like flies, Mr. Corbyn is packing the front bench with new shadow ministers today. Among those finding themselves with new briefs to fill today are former lover to the Labour leader Dianne Abbott as shadow health secretary and friend to the working man Lady Nugee at the Foreign office.

That list in full:

  • Shadow foreign secretary – Emily Thornberry
  • Shadow health secretary – Diane Abbott
  • Shadow education secretary – Pat Glass
  • Shadow transport secretary – Andy McDonald
  • Shadow defence secretary – Clive Lewis
  • Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury – Rebecca Long-Bailey
  • Shadow international development secretary – Kate Osamor
  • Shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary – Rachel Maskell
  • Shadow voter engagement and youth affairs – Cat Smith
  • Shadow Northern Ireland secretary – Dave Anderson

The positions of shadow justice secretary, shadow attorney general, shadow Scottish secretary, and shadow leader of the House of Commons have yet to be filled.

0915 — Shadow consumer minister resigns 
Yvonne Fovargue has stood down from the shadow cabinet, remarking that it has become “increasingly evident” that Mr. Corbyn isn’t “convincing” the electorate.

0910 — Shadow minister for local government resigns 
Steve Reed has stood down this morning, blaming a “disastrous” vote on Thursday

0905 — Wayne David MP resigns shadow cabinet 
Mr David was a shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, Scotland, and justice.

0900 — Another PPS Resigns
Labour Education PPS to now departed Lucy Powell, Jess Phillips resigns.

MONDAY 0830 — The resignations resume 
Mr Corbyn stubbornly held on to his position at the head of the Labour party despite a third of his cabinet either being dismissed or quitting their jobs. Monday looks to be another day of pain for the Corbynite faction as Parliament resumes and more resignations pour in. In the past few hours, we have seen:

  • The resignation of shadow armed forces secretary Toby Perkins, who remarked the Labour party “urgently… needs a change at the top”.
  • The resignation of Anna Turley, shadow minister for civil society who said “you and your team are not providing the strong, forward looking, and competent leadership we need”.
  • The resignation of Diana Johnson, the shadow foreign and commonwealth office minister, blaming the sacking of Hilary Benn.
  • The resignation of shadow business secretary Stephen Kinnock, who called Mr. Corbyn’s Brexit efforts “lacklustre”.
  • The resignation of Chris Matheson, a PPS to the shadow justice secretary.

2143 — Chris Bryant follows colleagues out of the exit door
The shadow Commons leader Chris Bryant is the latest shadow minister to quit in an attempt to force Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn out of position. His resignation letter makes it clear that he blames Corbyn for the loss of the EU referendum – “effectively [handing] the right in this country their biggest victory in a century.”

1908 — Karl Turner is tenth shadow minister to resign
The shadow attorney general Karl Turner, MP for Hull East, is the latest Labour shadow minister to resign. That brings total departures from the Labour shadow cabinet to eleven – exactly half of the official shadow cabinet.

1850 — That Tom Watson statement in full
“I was deeply disappointed to see Hilary Benn sacked in the early hours of this morning and equally saddened that so many talented, able and hard-working colleagues felt they had to leave the shadow cabinet. My single focus is to hold the Labour party together in very turbulent times. The nation needs an effective opposition, particularly as the current leadership of the country is so lamentable. It’s very clear to me that we are heading for an early general election and the Labour party must be ready to form a Government. There’s much work to do. I will be meeting Jeremy Corbyn tomorrow morning to discuss the way forward.”

1756 — Simon Danczuk has offered his services…

1745 — Lord Falconer becomes ninth Shadow Cabinet minister to quit
Lord Falconer, the Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice has become the ninth member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet to quit, taking the total number of departures to ten.

Lord Falconer served as Lord Chancellor and the first Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs under Tony Blair between 2003 and 2007; he went on to become the first Secretary of State for Justice in a 2007 reorganization and enlargement of the portfolio of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, holding the role for just over a month until Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007.

1722 —Tom Watson fence-sits
Tom Watson has told Sky News that he is “deeply dissapointed at the sacking of Hilary Benn, but equally disappointed by the resignations from the shadow cabinet.” Watson was enjoying a weekend off at Glastonbury Festival when the resignations started coming in, and has spent much of the day racing back to London.

1710 — Vernon Coaker Is Eighth Shadow Cabinet Minister to quit
The shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Vernon Coaker is the latest Labour frontbencher to quit in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

His letter of resignation makes it clear that, in line with his colleagues, Coaker doesn’t believe that Corbyn is the man to lead Labour in a general election fight. “Following the result of the EU Referendum the challenges facing our country are profound,” he writes.

“The values of our party have never been more relevant but our country requires leadership and vision that I do not believe you are in a position to provide, particularly when we may face the prospect of a General Election in the next 12 months.”

In a statement released to the HuffPost UK, Coaker added: “David Cameron’s decision to promise a referendum during the last general election campaign has resulted in the seismic changes the country is now undertaking.

“The decision to leave Europe leaves the whole of the UK facing massive uncertainty and Labour now needs a strong and clear direction to serve as an effective opposition as we move forward, particularly if we face a General Election in the next 12 months.

“I believe it is now time for the party to unite behind a new leader to ensure our MPs can serve the whole of the electorate as that effective opposition. It is with deep regret that I am therefore tendering  my resignation from the shadow cabinet.”

1645 — Corbyn supporters fight back…
Statements of support for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership have been trickling in from socialist and union sources amid continuing rumours of further resignations to come.

The Scottish Labour Young Socialists released their statement on Twitter; in line with many Corbyn supporters they are blaming the resignations on ongoing opposition within the PLP to Corbyn’s leadership for ideological reasons. They add that they are “particularly disappointed” to see the resignation of shadow Scotland minister Ian Murray, leaving “Scottish members voiceless at the top table of the Labour Party.”

Corbyn has also received support from Mike Cash, secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union – despite the union campaigning in favour of Brexit and not being affiliated to the Labour Party.

Mr Cash told Sky News: “By peddling the ludicrous notion that Jeremy is somehow responsible for the EU referendum result, Jeremy’s critics are in fact insulting the intelligence of voters and in doing so further alienating millions of natural Labour supporters who are quite capable of making up their own minds and who voted for what they believed in. 

“After a divisive referendum, and with the Tories on the ropes, working class people want the Labour Party to unite and address their concerns, instead those attacking Jeremy risk plunging the party into civil war and handing a gift to the Tories. 

“Jeremy has renewed the faith that many rank-and-file trade unionists have in the Labour Party, which is vital in helping Labour assist in maintaining and increasing support amongst its base. Trying to force him from office will weaken, not strengthen, the Labour Party.”

And Jon Trickett, one of seven shadow cabinet members to support Corbyn has told the New Statesman: “The central task facing Britain is what kind of country we’re going to have now that we’ve voted for Brexit. The central task facing the Labour Party is to offer a different vision for a different kind of Britain than the one that’s going to be offered by the small-minded Little England, xenophobic group around Boris Johnson, Gove and Farage.

“The only way that Labour can do that is to be united and focus totally on doing that, presenting an alternative vision. All of this is a reckless distraction from our central task. It’s time that people faced the facts: Jeremy is our leader, he has the overwhelming support of the party and we’ve got to get on with being an opposition and offer an alternative vision for the country.” 

1633 — Seema Malhotra resignation letter revealed
Seema Malhotra, the most recent shadow cabinet member to hand in her resignation has now tweeted the full text of her resignation letter. In line with her colleagues, Malhotra question’s Corbyn’s ability to unite Labour party supporters and lead the part to electoral success.

“I believe that we need to recognise that we do not currently look like a Government in waiting”, she says.

A handful of further resignations are expected to be announced this evening and into tomorrow morning.

Corbyn’s spokespeople have confirmed that he will not be stepping down as leader; the party is therefore hurtling into a prolonged period of civil war.

1557 — More resignations to come

Hold tight! Westminster sources are saying that there are more resignations yet to come. Half the shadow cabinet have yet to release statements either revealing their position.

1538 — Paul Flynn MP: coup is ‘orchestrated treachery’
Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West has spoken out in support for his beleaguered leader, taking to Twitter to slam the coup as “orchestrated treachery”.

Sky News is reporting that two further shadow cabinet members have come out in support of Corbyn: Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons Angela Smith and the opposition chief whip Lord Bassam of Brighton.

1518 — Unite’s Len McClusky reiterates support for Corbyn
Len McClusky, the General Secretary of Unite, has thrown his weight behind Corbyn’s leadership. In an article for The Guardian, he has called Corbyn a “a brave and principled man,” who is “better placed to address this crisis in Labour’s heartlands than any of his critics.”

He has accused the MPs behind the coup of “plunging their party into an unwanted crisis,” thereby “betraying not only the party itself but also our national interest at one of the most critical moments any of us can recall.”

Insisting that Corbyn is not to blame for the outcome of the referendum, he asserts that the coup would have taken place regardless of the referendum result.

“Hilary Benn and others have decided this is the moment to let the Tories off the hook, turn Labour inwards and try to set aside the overwhelming result of a party leadership election held less than 10 months ago,” he says.

On Friday the Unions, who backed Corbyn’s leadership campaign last year, re-stated their support for his leadership. 12 union leaders, including Len McClusky, released a statement which read:

The Prime Minister’s resignation has triggered a Tory leadership crisis. At the very time we need politicians to come together for the common good, the Tory party is plunging into a period of argument and infighting. In the absence of a government that puts the people first Labour must unite as a source of national stability and unity.

It should focus on speaking up for jobs and workers’ rights under threat, and on challenging any attempt to use the referendum result to introduce a more right-wing Tory government by the backdoor. 

The last thing Labour needs is a manufactured leadership row of its own in the midst of this crisis and we call upon all Labour MPs not to engage in any such indulgence.

1456 — Hodge and Coffey issue letter calling on Labour MPs to act against Corbyn
Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey, the two MPs to write to the chair of the parliamentary Labour party, John Cryer caling for a motion of no confidence in Corbyn on Friday, issued a new letter this morning calling on Labour MPs to act against Corbyn.

They argue that, with a general election potentially on the horizon, under Corbyn Labour could be facing “political oblivion.”

1447 — Could the coup be decided in the courts?
ITV are speculating on whether the Labour leadership contest could end up in the courts, as the party’s rules for a leadership election are ambiguous. Under party rules, to oust the leader 20 per cent of the Parliamentary and European Parliamentary Parties – 50 MPs and MEPs – need to write to the Labour General Secretary nominating a challenger. A former Labour minister has told ITV that just such a challenger is in place.

But it is unclear whether Corbyn also needs 50 nominations to be included on the ballot, or whether he goes on automatically. Corbyn’s office is understood to have sought legal advice on this and been told that he will get on the ballot automatically; but other members of the party have been given conflicting legal advice. This could get messy.

1437 — Corbyn refusing to talk to press

Corbyn left his house in Islington a short time ago, but got directly into a waiting car without making any statement to the press.

1428 — Corbyn backers so far:
Five shadow cabinet members have come out in support of Corbyn thus far. They are:

  • John McDonnell
  • Andy Burnham
  • Diane Abbott
  • Emily Thornberry
  • Jon Trickett

1415 — Momentum organising rally in support of Corbyn 
Having come to power only nine months ago in a landslide result, Corbyn still commands a lot of support – and his backers aren’t giving up that easily. The New Statesman has reported that Momentum, the left-wing group which grew out of his leadership campaign, are organising a rally in support of their man tomorrow. They are framing the fight as between Labour MPs and party members.

“The future is uncertain. After a Brexit vote we are in a time of national crisis, Cameron has resigned and we will likely have a general election with the potential of Britain lurching yet further to the right. A small number of Labour MPs are using this as an opportunity to oust Jeremy, disrespect the Labour membership who elected him and to disregard our movement for a new kind of politics.

“We cannot let this undemocratic behaviour succeed. Join us at 6 pm outside Parliament tomorrow, Monday 27 June. The Parliamentary Labour Party will be meeting inside, so let’s make sure they can hear us, the Labour Party members and voters outside.” 

1407 — Kerry McCarthy has tweeted her resignation letter.
The MP for Bristol East has said the current political environment “requires strong leadership” and a “credible” “alternative vision” from her Majesty’s Opposition.

1355 — Seema Malhotra resigns shadow cabinet
Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Seema Malhotra became the eighth member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet to leave, meaning almost one third have lost their jobs today.

1330 — Kerry McCarthy resigns shadow cabinet 
Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy, Shadow environment secretary has stood down from that role this afternoon in reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Corbyn’s Sunday so far:

The Labour bloodbath started overnight when Mr Corbyn sacked shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, son of veteran Labour-left campaigner Tony Benn. Mr. Corbyn is understood to have moved against his ally to prevent a coup against him.

Corbyn’s health policy chief then resigned on Sunday morning, saying the country needed a credible opposition after voting to leave the European Union, and that she did not believe party leader Jeremy Corbyn could provide it.

“As much as I respect you as a man of principle, I do not believe you have the capacity to shape the answers our country is demanding and I believe that if we are to form the next Government, a change of leadership is essential,” Heidi Alexander wrote to Corbyn in a letter she posted on Twitter.

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray — the only Labour MP left sitting in a Scottish constituency — then stood down remarking he didn’t think Corbyn could be Prime Minister and that in his opinion the nation was in need of a Labour government. The MP said Mr Corbyn sacking Hilary Benn was “the final straw”.

Unlike others in the Labour party, Mr Murray did not openly blame Mr Corbyn for the referendum result. The BBC reports this morning on inside sources that claim Mr. Corbyn’s office deliberately sabotaged the Remain campaign because of his well-known and long-standing opposition to the European Union.

Coming then was shadow transport secretary Lillian Greenwood, who represents Nottingham South and said that “new leadership is required to bridge the widening divides in our party”. Following Greenwood was Lucy Powell MP, the shadow education secretary who said Mr Corbyn is “unable to command the support of the shadow cabinet, the Parliamentary Labour Party, and most importantly the country”.

She said the country needed a “strong Labour Party and we need to effectively challenge a Tory party which is lurching ever rightwards”.

 

Read more on the Labour crisis at Breitbart London

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