Five MPs poised to follow Prescott's exit from RMT

Barrie Clement,Labour Editor
Sunday 08 December 2013 03:35
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Several MPs plan to follow John Prescott's example and resign from Britain's biggest rail union in protest at its hard-left leadership.

Up to five MPs are expected to quit the RMT rail union over the organisation's decision to withdraw financial contributions to their constituency parties.

In protest at government policies, the union's annual conference last week also voted to slash payments to Labour Party coffers by £92,000 a year.

Among those who said yesterday they would leave the union were Hugh Bayley, MP for the City of York, and John Hepple, who represents Nottingham East.

They claimed that at least three of their colleagues – members of a 12-strong group whose constituencies had received help from the RMT – would also quit.

Tam Dalyell, father of the House and one of the MPs whose constituency would lose money, described Mr Prescott's decision as "petulant". He disagreed with the union's methods, but did not intend to break the relationship, he said.

Mr Prescott said the row would not affect his or the party's links with the wider labour movement. "I am a trade union man. I will always be that way," he said. He signalled that he would be joining another union shortly.

Bob Crow, the hard-left general secretary of the RMT, denied accusations that he wanted to link the funding of MPs with the way they voted in the Commons.

"All we're saying is that we want MPs to campaign, in general, on those issues. When it comes to a vote, that's up to the individual MP," he said.

While the RMT has stopped Mr Prescott from buying a flat in south London that he rents from the union, an RMT spokesman said there was no question of him being evicted. "He's got a tenancy agreement and we ain't going to send the bailiffs in," he said.

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