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By Building Societies Association

Chuka Umunna ditches unpaid student placements with blast at Jeremy Corbyn

2 min read

Chuka Umunna has said he will no longer offer unpaid student placements in his office - as he accused the Labour leadership of using the row to attack him.

The former Shadow Cabinet member came under fire after it emerged he was offering work experience in his office for politics students at Leeds University.

That led to an email being sent to all Labour MPs by Jeremy Corbyn's office reminding them that failing to pay interns went against the party's rules.

"This is a reminder to all MPs that it is against Labour Party policy to employ unpaid interns," the statement read. "As part of our 20-point plan for security and equality at work, set out in the 2017 general election manifesto, we have pledged to ban unpaid internships."

However, Streatham MP Mr Umunna has insisted there is a difference between a student placement, which he was offering, and unpaid internships.

Writing in The Independent, he said: "I have never made any secret about the arrangements in my office on students and it helps to get the facts straight because there has been a lot of misreporting of my situation.

"This was a student placement and not an unpaid internship. The advert in question was offered by the Leeds University politics department as part of a sandwich course in which students choose to undertake an additional work placement year, usually within an MP’s office – it is then a requirement of attaining the degree. Many MPs of all parties have been involved with schemes like these over the years."

Mr Umunna told PoliticsHome: "The Labour party leadership briefed against me on this for political reasons notwithstanding the fact that Labour frontbenchers have the same arrangements - one member of the Shadow Cabinet also has participated in the Leeds scheme - and our policy is to ban unpaid internships, not unpaid student placements."

The former Shadow Business Secretary also called for the parliamentary aithorities to establish an allowance for student placements and work experience, and for Labour to set up its own fund to enable MPs to have paid student placements.

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