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Jeremy Corbyn ally threatens Labour MPs with deselection to 'keep the party fresh and updated'

Jeremy Corbyn ally threatens Labour MPs with deselection to 'keep the party fresh and updated'

John Ashmore

3 min read

A close ally of Jeremy Corbyn has issued an open threat to parliamentary colleagues that they face being deselected by their local members unless they back their leader.

Chris Williamson risked further inflaming internal tensions by claiming some Labour MPs "think it's their God-given right to rule".

And he suggested disloyal MPs should be removed to “keep Labour fresh and updated”.

The Shadow Fire Minister - who was only re-elected MP for Derby North a month ago - claimed it was “unreasonable” for colleagues to think they could avoid future selection battles with their local parties.

His warning comes after supporters of Jeremy Corbyn took over Luciana Berger’s constituency Labour party and told her to apologise for criticising the leader in the past.

In a highly provocative move, Mr Williamson - who earlier this week gave his backing to the mandatory reselection of Labour MPs - put out a statement  directly attacking some of his colleagues.

"There are interest groups and individual MPs in this party who think it's their god-given right to rule," he said. "No MP should be guaranteed a job for life and it's crucial that we all get with the times. MPs elected in earlier phases of this party run the risk of failing to understand what is really going on out there in society.

"Yes, Labour is a big church, but we currently have a large bulk of MPs who represent one relatively small tendency in the congregation. To keep Labour fresh and updated we need MPs who can win the support of the mass membership."


His latest intervention comes after a source close to Jeremy Corbyn told PoliticsHome earlier this week that the Labour leader could back mandatory reselection to “democratise” the party.

A senior source close to the Labour leader said Mr Corbyn had yet to make up his mind on the controversial proposal, which is vehemently opposed by most of his MPs.

Mr Williamson argued that such a move could no longer be seen as a small hard-left clique trying to assert its will over the party.

"Where I think critics of mandatory reselection are mistaken are in trying to view the Corbyn phenomenon through the lens of the '70s and '80s when the militant left was small and ideologically driven," he said.

“Today, the bulk of Labour's new members don't see the new politics as left or right, they see it as a matter of right or wrong.

"Those MPs who are popular with their members, which may well be the vast majority, should have no problem getting reselected. But it’s unreasonable to think we as MPs can avoid any contest."

But one Labour MP told PoliticsHome: "If they really want to do this, it will plunge us into 200-plus internal battles and reduce our effectiveness at taking on the Tories."

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