Senior Labour staffers resign ahead of Jennie Formby's expected appointment as party's new general secretary

Exodus of staffers comes hours before meeting to appoint Iain McNicol’s successor

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Monday 19 March 2018 15:18 GMT
Jennie Formby, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, is widely expected to be appointed as Labour’s general secretary on Tuesday
Jennie Formby, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, is widely expected to be appointed as Labour’s general secretary on Tuesday (AFP)

A number of senior Labour officials have resigned ahead of the expected appointment of Jennie Formby as the party’s new general secretary.

Six staffers handed in their resignations on Monday, a day before Ms Formby was expected to take charge of operations at the party’s headquarters in London.

They include Simon Jackson, Labour’s long-standing head of policy, and John Stolliday, the director of legal and governance that oversees investigations into party members accused of wrongdoing.

Neil Fleming, regional director for London, and Dan Simpson, the secretary to the Parliamentary Labour Party are also leaving.

Tracey Allen and Julie Lawrence, who work for outgoing general secretary Iain McNicol, have also handed in their notice.

It is understood that all those stepping down will see out their three-month notice periods, meaning they will stay in their roles until after May’s council elections.

One source told The Independent some of those resigning did so in the belief there will be a significant change of staff when the new general secretary starts.

The resignations are a further sign of the transformation of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. There have been long-running tensions between Mr Corbyn’s office and the party’s headquarters, with members of the Labour leader’s office believing some staffers are intentionally trying to undermine him.

In recent months Mr Corbyn’s team have installed a number of supporters in key positions at the London headquarters. The party’s press office has undergone an almost complete overhaul and other teams have also seen significant changes.

Emilie Oldknow, one of the party’s executive directors, stepped down earlier this month, while elections chief Patrick Heneghan quit late last year.

The latest resignations come ahead of a crunch meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee where the party’s next general secretary will be appointed.

Ms Formby, a senior Unite official who has the backing of the current Labour leadership, is widely expected to be chosen ahead of Christine Blower, the other candidate on the shortlist. Ms Blower was previously general secretary of the National Union of Teachers.

Labour sources stressed that only six of 420 staff members have resigned, and said this was normal ahead of a new general secretary being appointed. 14 members of staff quit when Mr McNicol was appointed, they said.

A Labour spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on staffing matters.”

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