Tue, 13 April 2021

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Jeremy Corbyn sacks frontbench rebels after 49 Labour MPs defy him over Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn sacks frontbench rebels after 49 Labour MPs defy him over Brexit
2 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has sacked three of his frontbench team and seen another quit after dozens of Labour MPs rebelled against him on Brexit.

A total of 49 of his backbenchers supported an amendment to the Queen's Speech tabled by Labour MP Chuka Umunna, which called for the UK's continued membership of the single market even after it leaves the European Union.

The Labour leader  - who insists the UK must quit the single market - had ordered his MPs to abstain rather than vote with Streatham MP Mr Umunna. The amendment was defeated by 322 to 101.

Rebelling MPs included shadow ministers Catherine West, Andy Slaughter, and Ruth Cadbury, who were immediately sacked from their roles.

A fourth frontbencher, Daniel Zeichner, quit his post before the vote took place.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Umunna ​said: "While it is disappointing that our amendment did not win a majority of votes in the House of Commons, what it shows is that pro-European backbench MPs of all parties are not going to simply submit to a hard Brexit.

"I and many others will continue to fight tirelessly to stop an extreme, destructive Tory hard Brexit. With a hung parliament, we have a real chance in future to shape Britain’s exit from the EU to protect jobs and working people."

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: "Millions of people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn were hoping for a new approach to Brexit. They will be feeling utterly betrayed tonight that he has yet again failed to oppose this government's extreme Brexit agenda.

"On the most important issue of the day, Jeremy Corbyn ordered his MPs to sit on their hands."

SNP MP Kirsty Blackman said: "‘This debate has shown clearly that this is a parliament of minorities: that the Tories do not have a mandate for their endless austerity or extreme Brexit and the Labour leadership is confused and incoherent over the single market.

"Labour’s confusion is mirrored by the Tories incompetence and in-fighting over Brexit – already causing huge damage.

"The SNP is trying to build a consensus to retain single market membership, to ensure that all companies with the potential to grow, export, and create skilled jobs, have the ability to do these things."

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