Jeremy Corbyn sacks Labour shadow ministers for defying him over Brexit vote

Three shadow ministers were sacked and another resigned

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Thursday 29 June 2017 19:46 BST
Chuka Umunna proposes rebel backbench motion that would keep Britian in EU if May failed to get deal

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Jeremy Corbyn has sacked several members of his frontbench team after a party split in the Commons about how to oppose the Government on Brexit.

Three shadow ministers were sacked and at least one more resigned after they joined a total of 49 MPs who supported a rebel amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for Britain to stay in the single market and customs union.

Catherine West, Ruth Cadbury and Andy Slaughter were sacked from the front bench. Another MP, Daniel Zeichner announced this evening that he resigned ahead of the vote.

The motion of regret, proposed by Chuka Umunna, also says Britain should not leave the EU if Theresa May fails to reach a deal with the European Union.

The amendment, which was backed by 101 MPs in total after additional support from the Lib Dems, Greens, SNP, and Plaid Cymru, is at odds with the stance on Brexit in Labour’s manifesto.

Labour says the party “accepts the referendum result and will put the national interest first”.

It says it would “prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout the negotiations”.

The party’s leadership wants Parliament to be given a “meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal and says Britain should negotiate a deal that provides exactly the same benefits of staying in the single market.

However the backbench amendment proposed by Mr Umunna goes further and wants the Government to “rule out withdrawal from the EU without a deal”, and “set out proposals to remain within the customs union and single market”.

The sackings are a sign that Mr Corbyn is beginning to stamp his authority on the Parliamentary Labour Party after a better than expected election result.

The full text of the amendment suggests that the House of Commons “respectfully regret that the Gracious Speech does not rule out withdrawal from the EU without a deal, guarantee a Parliamentary vote on any final outcome to negotiations, set out transitional arrangements to maintain jobs, trade and certainty for business, set out proposals to remain within the Customs Union and Single Market, set out clear measures to respect the competencies of the devolved administrations, and include clear protections for EU nationals living in the UK now, including retaining their right to remain in the UK, and reciprocal rights for UK citizens”.

Chuka Umunna proposes rebel backbench motion that would keep Britian in EU if May failed to get deal

The result of the vote emphasises the split in the opposition party about how to deal with Britain leaving the EU.

The motion was backed by Labour MPs including John Woodcock, Luciana Berder, Ben Bradshaw, and Mike Gapes.

Liberal Democrats including Sir Vince Cable and Tim Farron signed the motion, as well as SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs support it.

Theresa May said at the start of the year in her Lancaster House speech that Britain will be leaving the single market and customs union.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in