Jeremy Corbyn 'sacks shadow minister Ivan Lewis by text message'

Ivan Lewis told a fringe event at the Labour party conference in Brighton that Corbyn sent him a text telling him his job had been given to someone else

Matt Dathan
Online political reporter
Monday 28 September 2015 00:21
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Ivan Lewis has served in Labour’s front bench team in and out of government since 2001, most recently as Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary
Ivan Lewis has served in Labour’s front bench team in and out of government since 2001, most recently as Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary

Jeremy Corbyn sacked a shadow minister who had served on Labour’s front bench for 14 years by text after being told to be more careful about his relations with anti-semites, it has been claimed.

Ivan Lewis told a fringe event at the Labour party conference in Brighton that the new Labour leader sent him a text telling him his job had been given to someone else and joked that it was “no way for socialists to treat working people”.

The Jewish MP for Bury South was openly hostile to Mr Corbyn during the leadership election, accusing him of “poor judgement” for expressing support for and failing to condemn anti-semites. He encouraged his local Bury South constituency, which has a large Jewish population, not to vote for Mr Corbyn in the contest.

However Mr Lewis was prepared to remain in his role as shadow Northern Ireland secretary under the new leadership due to the current crisis in the region, where all but one of the DUP ministers have quit the power sharing agreement over allegations that Sinn Fein members were linked to a murder of a former IRA man.

He said last week that the “long conversation” with Mr Corbyn on the day after his election victory was “very amicable, during which I had requested a meeting with him about anti-Semitism and he agreed to do that.“ Mr Lewis claims his new leader had told him he would consider keeping him in his brief but received a text just five minutes later saying he had decided to appoint someone else. “I was very surprised,” Mr Lewis said.

But he said the incident has not caused him to consider leaving Labour. Responding to claims by Lib Dem leader Tim Farron that Labour MPs had sent him texts about how they felt ”deeply distressed“ with Mr Corbyn’s victory, Mr Lewis said: “Let’s send a message to Tim Farron: thanks but no thanks. We will die Labour.”

Mr Lewis has served in Labour’s front bench team in and out of government since 2001 – just four years after entering Parliament in 1997. After Labour was voted out of power in 2010 Mr Lewis was elected into the shadow cabinet, with Ed Miliband handing him the job of shadow culture secretary, before going on to the international development brief and finally shadow Northern Ireland secretary.

Jeremy Corbyn's team, however, denied that Mr Lewis was sacked.

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