Chuka Umunna pleads with Corbyn to 'call off the dogs' after Labour centrists suffer no-confidence votes

Moderates face 'clear and present danger' of being run out of party, says Streatham MP

Harriet Agerholm
Saturday 08 September 2018 23:27
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Gavin Shuker MP "I think it’s increasingly difficult not just for me but for other colleagues” to stay with the Labour Party

Chuka Umunna has implored Jeremy Corbyn to “call off the dogs” trying to drive centre-left MPs out of Labour.

The Streatham MP claimed so-called moderates faced a “clear and present danger” of being run out of the party by hard-left factions.

Mr Umunna’s comments came after leading Joan Ryan, who chairs Labour Friends of Israel, and Luton South MP Gavin Shuker lost no-confidence votes among local party members.

Ms Ryan blamed the result on “Trots, Stalinists, Communists and assorted hard-left”, while Mr Shuker, who was elected in 2010, said: “I’ve not changed, but the Labour Party has.”

Chuka Umunna and John Rentoul debate the possibility of another Brexit referendum

In a speech to the centre-left group Progress, Mr Umunna, a former shadow business secretary, said MPs are being targeted for standing up for zero tolerance of racism.

“More motions such as this are expected by colleagues,” he said.

“My message to our leadership: it is within your power to stop this so call off the dogs and get on with what my constituency, one of the most diverse communities in the nation, demands we do — without equivocation, fight this Tory Brexit. That is where all our efforts should be.”

Mr Umunna said the Brexit debate has normalised hatred and black and minority ethnic voters had “paid the price”.

He warned the Labour leadership it would be a “complete betrayal” of the party’s values to “act as a bystander and wave through this disastrous Brexit” and call for it to back a referendum on the final deal.

Mr Umunna has backed The Independent’s Final Say campaign, which features a petition to Theresa May that has been signed by more than 700,000 people.

He told a Progress BAME event: “It is simply not good enough to adopt a position which refuses to make the case for a people’s vote on th e deal and at the same time leave it on the table as an option in the event of impasse in the House of Commons.

“That is simply constructive ambiguity continued, which needs to be junked.

“Let’s dump the prevarication, stop using internal factional reasons as an excuse to avoid it, and back a people’s vote wholeheartedly now.”

Press Association contributed to this report

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