Jeremy Corbyn facing Shadow Cabinet split as he orders his MPs to vote for Article 50

Posted On: 
7th February 2017

Jeremy Corbyn is facing a fresh Shadow Cabinet split after he ordered Labour MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50.

Diane Abbott opposed Jeremy Corbyn's decision to whip Labour MPs in favour of Article 50.
Credit: 
PA Images

A meeting of his senior frontbench team agreed that there should be a three-line whip to back the Government's EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill tomorrow evening.

That was despite a last-ditch attempt by Diane Abbott and Barry Gardiner for Labour MPs to be allowed to abstain on the crunch vote.

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It means Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis will almost certainly quit his post, and piles pressure on Shadow Home Secretary Ms Abbott to either toe the party line or resign.

She came in for criticism from her colleagues after missing last week's vote on the bill because she had gone home sick.

A total of 47 Labour MPs - 13 of them on the frontbench - defied the party whip on that occasion by voting against the bill.

Shadow Cabinet members Jo Stevens, Dawn Butler and Rachael Maskell had earlier quit their positions in protest at Mr Corbyn's stance.

UNTENABLE

At a meeting of the parliamentary Labour party last night, MPs said Ms Abbott's position was "untenable" after last week's no-show.

In what was seen as a clear reference to Ms Abbott – a close ally of Mr Corbyn – chief whip Nick Brown insisted that there would be no "favouritism" for Shadow Cabinet members who fail to follow the whip.

Among the MPs who criticised Ms Abbott's absence from last week's vote were Chris Bryant, Jess Phillips, Clive Betts, Emma Reynolds and Clive Efford.

One MP who was present at the meeting told PoliticsHome: "Nick confirmed that Diane had not asked their permission to go home and missed the vote. He also made clear that if you are too ill to go through the voting lobbies, you can sit in your office and be nodded through, meaning your vote is still recorded.

"He made it clear that the rules have to applied to everyone and that there can be no favouritism. The impression we got was that Nick was saying Diane would have to go."