Clive Lewis dismisses speculation that he might challenge Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader

Mr Lewis dismissed the claims he was preparing a challenge as “bol**cks” 

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Saturday 11 February 2017 12:48
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Clive Lewis at Labour's party conference
Clive Lewis at Labour's party conference

Labour’s Clive Lewis has dismissed speculation that he might challenge Jeremy Corbyn to lead his party.

The MP resigned from the front bench this week so that he could vote against the Government’s bill to trigger Article 50.

He told his local paper the Eastern Daily Press that “nothing could be further from my mind” than a leadership challenge.

“You can quote me on this. It is total bol**cks,” he told the newspaper, adding that talk of a theoretical challenge was part of a “game of fantasy politics in Westminster”.

Mr Corbyn won a second leadership election less than six months ago after being challenged by centrist figures in the party. He was returned with a slightly increased majority.

Fifty-two Labour MPs defied a three-line whip to vote against Article 50. Labour’s leadership proposed amendments to the Government’s bill but said it would not stand in the way of Brexit.

All its amendments were rejected by MPs, including those to guarantee the right of EU nationals to remain in the UK and a requirement for the Government to offer Parliament a meaningful vote on its final deal.

Mr Lewis indicated that he was sympathetic to the Labour leadership’s predicament, suggesting that not whipping the vote would have “come with its own problems”. He said he would have remained in the shadow Cabinet had he not had to break the whip.

The MP’s Norwich South seat is a potential four-way marginal between the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party – all of which have been in potential striking distance of a victory in recent years.

Mr Lewis, a former soldier and TV reporter, was previously shadow Defence Secretary on Mr Corbyn's front bench.

He was later moved to shadow Business Secretary, shortly after reports of a rift behind the scenes over the party's policy on Trident.

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