Sun, 3 December 2023

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EXCL Labour MP John Woodcock 'planning to resign party whip'

2 min read

John Woodcock is planning to resign the Labour whip in protest at the party's direction under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, PoliticsHome has learned.

The Barrow and Furness MP has told friends that recent rows over Russia and anti-Semitism, as well as Owen Smith's sacking and moves to unseat Dan Jarvis have pushed him to breaking point.

Mr Woodcock has long been been an outspoken critic of Mr Corbyn, and said before last year's general election that he could not vote to make him Prime Minister.

But his clashes with his party's frontbench have become more frequent of late, leading him to confide in pals that he is struggling to reconcile his personal views with being a Labour MP under Mr Corbyn.

Earlier this week, Mr Woodcock confronted Mr Corbyn in the Commons after the Labour leader claimed to have been a critic of the Russian government for the past 20 years, telling him: "It's just not true."

The backbencher was also one of dozens of Labour MPs who attended a demonstration on Monday organised by Jewish groups against anti-Semitism in the party.

Mr Woodcock also launched an outspoken attack on changes to Labour party rules which would force Dan Jarvis to quit as an MP if he is elected mayor of South Yorkshire in May.

And he is known to have been angered by Mr Corbyn's decision to sack Owen Smith from the Shadow Cabinet for calling for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

If he does give up the Labour whip, it is understood that Mr Woodcock would continue to sit in the Commons as an independent MP.

When approached for comment, Mr Woodcock said: "The last few weeks in particular have been pretty awful but any suggestion that I have made up my mind to leave is not true and not helpful to have it played out in public.

"My loyalty is to my constituents and local party members and anything I say in future will be to them first."

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