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Lisa Nandy says she resigned from shadow cabinet because Jeremy Corbyn’s allies wanted critics ‘smashed’

Leadership hopeful says Mr Corbyn’s team were ‘absolutely determined to fight’ his opponents, and adds: ‘You can’t win elections like that’

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Saturday 21 December 2019 11:35 GMT
Lisa Nandy 'seriously thinking' about Labour leadership bid

Lisa Nandy has said she resigned from Jeremy Corbyn‘s shadow cabinet because allies of the Labour leader wanted opponents within the party to be “smashed”.

The potential leadership contender, who quit the Labour frontbench in 2016 in protest at Mr Corbyn’s management, said she had resigned because the party leadership had been “absolutely determined to fight” party rivals ”until one or the other had been smashed”.

Ms Nandy has said she is “seriously thinking about” standing to replace Mr Corbyn when the leadership contest formally gets underway in January.

Since the election defeat last week, she has been critical of the party’s Brexit position and argued that Labour has lost touch with working-class communities.

If she does run, Ms Nandy is likely to face questions from pro-Corbyn Labour members over her decision to join more than 20 others in resigning from the frontbench in a move that allies of the Labour leader described as a ”coup”.

The resignations led to a vote of no confidence in the party leader and a subsequent leadership contest, in which Ms Nandy backed Mr Corbyn’s only rival, Owen Smith.

Commenting on her decision to resign, she insisted that she had only done so after speaking to Mr Corbyn and realising that his team would not make any compromises.

She said: “One side had picked a fight and the other side was absolutely determined to fight it until one or the other had been smashed. And I could see where that was heading. You can’t win elections like that.”

Ms Nandy also warned that Labour faced a “hard road back” to power after suffering it’s worst result in 85 years at last week’s general election.

She told The Guardian: “In all honesty, Brexit just played into the sense that we are adrift from communities like these, that we don’t speak for them, we don’t stand for them, we don’t understand them, and worse than that, we’re deeply disrespectful towards them. And that has been building for the last 15 to 20 years.

“It’s been a long time in the making, I hope it won’t take a long time to resolve. But it’s going to be a hard road back.”

The Wigan MP was particularly critical of Labour leadership’s decision to support a second referendum.

She said. “Once we adopted the position of a second referendum, there were a lot of Labour candidates in seats that voted overwhelmingly to leave who knew that they didn’t stand a chance of winning the election.”

She also criticised the party’s election manifesto, saying a major pledge to offer free broadband for every home and business had “missed the mark for people who are struggling with so many other things in their daily lives at the moment”,

Ms Nandy is expected to face stiff competition from current shadow cabinet ministers Sir Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long Bailey if she decides to stand for the leadership. Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, and Clive Lewis, the shadow Treasury minister, have already announced their bids.

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