Labour Party crisis: 40 MPs abandon Corbyn in two days as leader rocked by resignations
JEREMY Corbyn has started rushing to fill cabinet positions after a wave of resignations left him clinging to power by the skin of his teeth.
Corbyn has started hastily filling his cabinet after six more shadow ministers quit their roles by 10am this morning – meaning numerous top Labour MPs have abandoned Corbyn’s ship in just 24 hours.
The resignations were sparked by Corbyn’s decision to sack MP Hillary Benn in a midnight phonecall.
He has appointed Emily Thornberry to shadow foreign secretary and Diane Abbott to shadow health minister.
Ms Thornberry is notable for provoking outrage when she tweeted a picture that was deemed to be sneering at someone who had hung the flag of St George from their home in Rochester, Kent.
Controversial Ms Abbott was revealed to have had a sexual relationship with Corbyn in the 1970s – she has remained totally loyal to him.
Others offered jobs were Pat Glass to education minister, Andy McDonald to shadow transport, Clive Lewis to defence secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey to shadow chief secretary to the treasury, Kate Osamor to shadow international development secretary, Rachel Maskell to environment, food and rural affairs, Cat Smith to shadow voter engagement and youth affairs and Dave Anderson to shadow Northern Ireland secretary.
Maria Eagle has resigned as shadow culture secretary at just before 1pm today.
John Healey left his housing minister role, while Angela Eagle quit as shadow business secretary saying that the Labour Party needs a “leader who can unite rather than divide”.
Lisa Nandy and Owen Smith resigned from the shadow cabinet and told Jeremy Corbyn that deputy Labour leader Tom Watson should take over in a caretaker role.
Jenny Chapman, education department, Roberta Blackman-Woods, shadow housing minister, Jess Phillips, parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to education, Neil Coyle, PPS to shadow leader of the House, Yvonne Fovargue, shadow consumer affairs minister, Ruth Smeeth, PPS to shadow Northern Ireland and Scotland and Wayne David, the shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, Scotland & Justice have also quit.
Alex Cunningham, shadow natural environment minister, Diana Johnson, the shadow foreign minister and Anna Turley, the shadow minister for civil society, were the first to go, followed by Toby Perkins, the shadow armed forces minister, who said the Labour Party “needs a change at the top”.
Moments later, Stephen Kinnock quit as parliamentary private secretary to fellow MP Angela Eagle, who is shadow secretary of state for business, innovation and skills.
Mr Kinnock is the the son of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock.
Labour Party leaders in the House of Lords are reportedly going to refuse to attend meetings with Mr Corbyn’s brand new top team.
Lord Bassam, the chief whip, and Baroness Smith of Basildon, the Labour leader in the Lords are both in their posts because of elections within among the party’s peers – rather than being appointed by Corbyn.
According to sources, they took “soundings” from other Labour peers before deiding it was likely they would boycott shadow cabinet meetings until Corbyn quits his job as leader.
His resignation came after Karl Turner quit as a shadow attorney general, announcing his decision “with a heavy heart”.
Northern Ireland secretary Vernon Coaker, who had been among an unhappy Labour group predicted to ditch Corbyn yesterday morning, also quit.
Seema Malhotra, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, and Kerry McCarthy, the shadow secretary for environment, food and rural affairs, resigned before him.
Ms Malhotra stuck the knife into the embattled Corbyn just 24 hours after she introduced Mr Corbyn before he made a post-referendum speech.
Her announcement came just seconds after Lucy Powell quit her high profile position as shadow education secretary, saying Jeremy Corbyn’s position as leader is “untenable”.
She followed Lilian Greenwood, who walked-out on her role as shadow transport minister, and shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray, who is Labour’s only MP north of the border.
Corbyn said in a statement that he won’t “betray the trust” of those who elected him and he will stand again as a candidate if others challenge him.