Labour Brexit revolt: Every shadow cabinet minister to have resigned so far

'It is increasingly clear that your position is untenable and that you are unable to command the support of the country"

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 27 June 2016 15:20
Labour exodus - The list of MPs who have left Corbyn's shadow cabinet

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is facing a growing revolt from senior politicians within his party in protest over his leadership in the European Union referendum.

Here, The Independent will be keeping a tally of who has resigned - so far.

Angela Eagle – shadow Business Secretary

Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle resigned as shadow business secretary saying that the Labour Party needed a “leader who can unite rather than divide”.

Ms Eagle, who is also shadow First Secretary of State, wrote in her resignation letter: “Whilst we all have a responsibility to help maintain a unity of Labour purpose and provide a strong Labour voice at this time of unprecedented national uncertainty and lack of government leadership post-Brexit, you are clearly not prepared to accept the special responsibility you have in acting to meet these challenges.”

Angela Eagle 

Hilary Benn – shadow Foreign Secretary

Well, Hilary Benn didn’t exactly resign - he was fired. But his sacking has triggered a mass walkout from the frontbench.

Mr Benn, the son of the late Tony Benn who was one of Mr Corbyn’s mentors, said there was "widespread" worry among Labour MPs and in the shadow Cabinet over Mr Corbyn's ability to win a snap election in the wake of David Cameron's resignation.

The sacking followed claims in the Observer that Mr Benn called fellow MPs over the weekend to take soundings about a putsch. The party leader has faced accusations from his own MPs that he led a weak campaign in the EU referendum and is facing a motion of no confidence.

Hilary Benn

Heidi Alexander – shadow Health Secretary

Heidi Alexander, the Shadow Health Secretary, became the first to resign on Sunday morning following Mr Benn’s sacking. In an open letter, she wrote: “It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to you to resign from the shadow Cabinet”.

Ms Alexander added that there are "a fair number" of other senior Labour figures considering their positions.

Asked how many could join her in resigning, she told ITV's Peston on Sunday: "I think that there are a fair number of people who do feel similarly to me. “I know a lot of my colleagues will be asking themselves similar questions to the one I've asked myself this morning."

Heidi Alexander

Lucy Powell – shadow Education Secretary

In her resignation to the Labour leader, the shadow Education Secretary wrote that she did not know Mr Corbyn before he became leader but “have come to know you and found you to be a decent, principled and kind colleague.” She also said that the party faced an "existential threat" and warned that it has lost the support of many of its traditional voters.

She added: “However, it is increasingly clear that your position is untenable and that you are unable to command the support of the shadow Cabinet, the Parliamentary Labour Party and, most importantly, the country.”

Lucy Powell

Seema Malhotra - shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Ms Malhotra’s resignation is seen as significant as, unlike other rebels, she is believed to be loyal to the leadership, especially to John McDonnell. Just yesterday she introduced Mr Corbyn as he made his speech following the EU referendum vote.

But the MP for Feltham and Heston has joined a growing number of her frontbench colleagues in resigning.

Seema Malhotra, the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “George Osborne is relying on millions of British families going further into debt to hit his growth targets.”

Gloria de Piero - shadow minister for Young People and Voter Registration

According to The Guardian, she told Mr Corbyn in her resignation letter: "I do not believe you can deliver that victory at a general election, which may take place in a matter of months.

"I have been contacted by many of my members this weekend and it is clear that a good number of them share that view and have lost faith in your leadership."

Gloria De Piero, shadow minister for voter registration

Kerry McCarthy - shadow Environment Secretary

In her resignation letter, she said: "Although I do not doubt your personal commitment to your long-held principles, I believe that a new leader is needed to take on the challenges ahead: Steering our way through the very difficult period facing this country, exerting a decisive influence on the post-referendum negotiations, and winning broad-based electoral support."

She told Mr Corbyn: "The referendum result was a huge disappointment, and we now face the challenge of negotiating our future relationship with the rest of Europe. Vital protections won through our EU membership must not be jettisoned.

Kerry McCarthy (Getty)

"This requires strong leadership from the Labour Party, and an alternative vision for government, which is seen as credible by the wider electorate. Although I do not doubt your personal commitment to your long-held principles, I believe that a new leader is needed to take on the challenges ahead."

Owen Smith - shadow Work and Pensions Secretary

Owen Smith, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, resigned on Monday afternoon alongside Lisa Nandy - his colleague with the energy brief on the frontbench. See their joint resignation letter below.

Lisa Nandy - shadow Energy Secretary

Ms Nandy, seen as a rising-star among some in the Parliamentary Labour Party, quit alongside Owen Smith,

In a joint statement, Ms Nandy and Mr Smith said: "The lack of confidence in the leadership goes beyond the small group of MPs who have consistently opposed Jeremy since his election...It has become clear that he is unable to form a broad, inclusive shadow cabinet that draws on the best of our movement's left and right traditions.

Lisa Nandy 

"For that reason we have told Jeremy that whilst the party holds a leadership contest - which is now inevitable - we believe Tom Watson ought to take over as a caretaker leader to stabilise the party and to enable us to play a full part as the official opposition in one of the most difficult periods this country has ever faced."

Lilian Greenwood - shadow Transport Secretary

Shadow transport secretary Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South since 2010, was first promoted to the Labour frontbench by Ed Miliband and kept on by Mr Corbyn.

She echoed the concerns of many of her former front bench colleagues that Brexit will cause economic hardship and be accompanied by growing intolerance.

She said: "Faced with such challenges, it is essential that we have a strong and united opposition. You are a kind, decent and principled colleague, but in my view a new leadership is required to bridge the widening divides in our party, both in Parliament and in the country as a whole."

Ian Murray - shadow Scottish Secretary

Ian Murray, who is Labour's only MP in Scotland, resigned from the frontbench and told the BBC's Sunday Politics programme: "We've gone through an incredibly difficult time, not just in the party but since the EU referendum result on Friday morning...the Labour Party has to be a strong opposition and a broad coalition in order to get back into government."

He added: "He's [Mr Corbyn] a decent human being, a lovely man who I get on incredibly well with. But he just can't lead the Labour Party and I don't think the public think he can be Prime Minister."

Labour's only Scottish MP, Ian Murray 

Karl Turner – shadow Attorney General

Posting on his Twitter account the shadow Attorney General, Karl Turner, said it is “with a very heavy heart I have notified Jeremy Corbyn that I have resigned from the shadow Cabinet”.

Vernon Coaker – shadow Northern Ireland Secretary

The shadow Northern Ireland Secretary was one of the most experienced politicians in Mr Corbyn’s Cabinet, who served as minister for schools under Gordon Brown’s premiership.

In a statement to the Huffington Post, he said: "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.

Vernon Coaker

"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."

Lord Falconer – shadow Justice Secretary

The Labour peer and barrister Lord Falconer served as Justice Secretary under his old friend and former flat mate Tony Blair. He was appointed as shadow Justice Secretary in 2015 by the then acting leader Harriet Harman and kept the job when Mr Corbyn was elected in September 2015.

Chris Bryant - shadow Commons Leader

Chris Bryant was one of just a handful of shadow cabinet members to straddle the eras of Ed Miliband and Mr Corbyn.

But since his perceived demotion from his shadow culture secretary post by Mr Corbyn, there has been widespread speculation that he was unhappy.

In his resignation letter, Mr Bryant said: "Last week changed everything. A major plank of Labour's longstanding economic and foreign policy was defeated in the referendum and we effectively handed the right in this country their biggest victory in a century.

"The Prime Minister must take the lion's share of the blame for that defeat and he has honourably resigned, but your inability to give a clear, unambiguous message to Labour voters significantly contributed to the result. Your ambivalent attitude in the campaign was a betrayal of the Labour Party and the wider Labour movement and it has let down a whole generation of young people who desperately hoped to hear a strong, cogent and inspiring pro-EU message from Labour."

Maria Eagle – shadow Culture Secretary

Ms Eagle, who held the culture brief in Mr Cobryn’s Cabinet, resigned on Monday morning shortly after her sister. Ms Eagle told Mr Corbyn, via letter, that he was not the "strong and effective leadership" that the country needed.

Maria Eagle 

John Healey – shadow minister for Housing and Planning

The former trade union official has been the MP for Wentworth and Dearne since 1997. He resigned as shadow minister of state for housing and planning.

Nia Griffiths – shadow Secretary of State for Wales

In her resignation letter Ms Griffiths wrote: “I recognise the huge mandate that you have from Party members. However in order for us to bring about the change in this country that so many voters so desperately need and want to see, the party need to be united and ready for an early general election.

"I do not feel that our discussions this morning gave me the confidence that you can now achieve this unity."

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