Rebecca Long Bailey says she was sacked before having chance to hold talks with Keir Starmer

Former shadow education secretary says she will continue to support party under Starmer's leadership from the backbenches

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Thursday 25 June 2020 17:01
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Rebecca Long Bailey says her favourite hobby is having a Chinese takeaway and watching Netflix with her husband

Rebecca Long Bailey has said that she was removed from the shadow cabinet before having a chance to hold discussions she had requested with Labour leader Keir Starmer.

The former shadow education secretary said that Starmer made his decision to ask her to stand down despite her posting a statement agreed with his office clarifying an earlier expression of support for actor Maxine Peake.

But the Salford and Eccles MP indicated she was not seeking confrontation with Starmer, insisting she will continue to support his leadership from the backbenchers.

Ms Long Bailey was sacked after retweeting approvingly an interview in which Ms Peake made allegations about Israeli security forces.

In a string of tweets issues minutes after her removal, she set out her side of the dramatic dismissal.

She insisted that she had not intended to endorse these comments, but was signalling approval for the long-time Labour supporter’s criticism of the Conservative government and call for party unity elsewhere in the interview.

Ms Long Bailey said she agreed a message clarifying this point with Sir Keir’s office and sent it out on Twitter, only to be told to delete it along with her original comment.

She said she sought talks with the leader to discuss what to do, but “sadly he had already made his decision”.

Ms Long Bailey’s messages read: “Today I retweeted an interview that my constituent and stalwart Labour Party supporter Maxine Peake gave to The Independent.

“Its main thrust was anger with the Conservative government’s handling of the current emergency and a call for Labour Party unity.

“These are sentiments are shared by everyone in our movement and millions of people in our country.”

She added: “I learned that many people were concerned by references to international sharing of training and restraint techniques between police and security forces.

“In no way was my retweet an intention to endorse every part of that article.

“I wished to acknowledge these concerns and duly issued a clarification of my retweet, with the wording agreed in advance by the Labour Party leader’s office, but after posting I was subsequently instructed to take both this agreed clarification and my original retweet down.

“I could not do this in good conscience without the issuing of a press statement of clarification.

“I had asked to discuss these matters with Keir before agreeing what further action to take, but sadly he had already made his decision.”

Ms Long Bailey said: “I am proud of the policies we have developed within the party from our Green Industrial Revolution to a National Education Service and I will never stop working for the change our communities need to see.

“I am clear that I shall continue to support the Labour Party in Parliament under Keir Starmer’s leadership, to represent the people of Salford and Eccles and work towards a more equal, peaceful and sustainable world.”

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