Labour MP Frank Field hits out at party members after losing no-confidence vote over Brexit stance

Party activists passed the motion after the MP voted with the government on a knife-edge vote

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Saturday 28 July 2018 18:28
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What is still needed to complete a deal with the EU?

Veteran Labour MP Frank Field has accused his local party of trying to “misrepresent” his views on Brexit in a bid to oust him, after losing a no-confidence vote from constituency members.

Labour activists passed the motion on Friday night over the eurosceptic MP’s decision to vote with the government on a key piece of Brexit legislation, which helped Theresa May to narrowly avoid a humiliating defeat.

Mr Field, who has held his Birkenhead seat for nearly 40 years, said he acted on behalf of “millions of Labour voters – mainly in parts of the country that have long been neglected by the elites – who gave politicians a clear instruction to take the country out of the EU”.

It comes after fellow Labour Brexiteer Kate Hoey also lost a no-confidence vote, on Thursday, as party members in her south London seat accused her of “reneging” on her promise to oppose a hard Brexit.

Critics have called for the deselection of both MPs and their fellow rebels, John Mann and Graham Stringer, for helping Ms May to win a vote that could have destabilised her government.

Mr Field, whose constituency in Merseyside voted to leave the EU, said he had “always voted to free our country from the tightening stranglehold of the EU” on behalf of working-class Labour voters.

He said in a statement: “For most, if not all, of those votes I did so alongside Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

“It would have been a betrayal of the principles I have held for my entire political life, had I voted against the legislation two weeks ago.”

Mr Field, who chairs the Work and Pensions committee, said: “Some people have tried to misrepresent my vote as a means of propping up the Tories or getting in the way of an early general election.

“This is an absurd suggestion that is being used as an excuse by certain people in the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party who are fixated on the idea of trying to get rid of me.

“They would have found some other excuse, had it not been this topic, as they’re already lining up their alternative candidate.”

Laura Parker, national coordinator of Momentum, had called for the deselection of all four rebels, saying: “There is no room for Labour MPs who side with the reactionary Tory establishment.”

The vote against him was sparked by a letter from the Bidston and St James branch secretary Brian Parsons.

Mr Parsons attacked the “actions and total disregard” of Mr Field in supporting the Conservatives, which he said could potentially damage support for Labour in any upcoming election.

He said: “For whatever reason, Mr Field is refusing to assist his parliamentary colleagues in removing one of the cruellest and most savage Tory administrations this country has produced, including the Thatcher government.”

The motions are not binding but will be noted by Labour bosses, and could result in both Mr Field and Ms Hoey having the whip removed – which would force them to sit as independent MPs.

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