Labour grandees dare Jeremy Corbyn to expel them after Alastair Campbell is booted out for voting Lib Dem

Posted On: 
29th May 2019

Two Labour ex-Cabinet ministers have revealed that they also voted for other parties in the European elections after Alastair Campbell was expelled for backing the Liberal Democrats.

Charles Clarke and Bob Ainsworth served in the Blair and Brown governments.
Credit: 
PA

In a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn, former Home Secretary Charles Clarke and ex-Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth revealed that they had respectively backed the Lib Dems and the Greens at last week's EU-wide poll.

The move came just hours after Mr Campbell, Tony Blair's former director of communications, revealed that he had been expelled from Labour after saying he had not backed the party over its refusal to fully endorse a second Brexit referendum.

Lisa Nandy MP: In Labour constituencies like mine, the idea of a second EU referendum is absurd

Alastair Campbell kicked out of Labour party after voting Lib Dem in EU election

Equalities watchdog launches formal investigation into Labour over anti-semitism allegations

According to Labour party rules, any member "who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party" will "automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member".

But Mr Clarke, who served as Home Secretary and Education Secretary in the Blair governments, revealed he too had made the "one-off" decision to back the pro-Remain Lib Dems - and branded the move to oust Mr Campbell a "disgrace".

In a statement, he said: “I was not aware that Alastair had voted Liberal Democrat in the European election until I heard him say so on television on Sunday evening.

“His expulsion from Labour Party membership is a disgrace and only compounds Labour’s current political difficulties.

“I also voted Liberal Democrat. This was a one-off decision because of the hopeless incoherence of Labour’s position, particularly that of Jeremy Corbyn, on Brexit."

Mr Clarke added: "I have been a Labour Party member for 47 years and have never before voted anything but Labour. I was Chair of the Labour Party in 2001-2.

"I have consistently argued against those who, often in understandable despair at the Labour leadership’s abandonment of Labour’s fundamental values, have either resigned from the Labour Party or joined another party.

"And I shall be voting for Labour’s excellent MP for Cambridge, Daniel Zeichner, in the next General Election whenever it comes.

"Labour should immediately withdraw its expulsion of Alastair."

Meanwhile Bob Ainsworth - who served as Defence Secretary in Gordon Brown's government - revealed that he had backed the pro-second referendum Greens last week.

"Having recently voted Labour in local elections, I voted Green in the Euro elections having never voted other than Labour before in my entire life," he told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire

"I didn't intend to make this public, but now Alastair has been expelled for doing the same I feel obliged to do so."

'ABSURD'

The interventions came amid deep divisions in Labour over its stance on a second Brexit referendum.

The party's leadership has long pushed for a general election as a way to resolve the deadlock over Britain's EU exit, but there are growing calls from some MPs and frontbenchers for it to fully get behind a fresh referendum after Labour took a hammering in the European polls.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott on Tuesday said she believed it was "important to foreground the People's Vote" and said Labour was "moving towards a clearer line" on the issue.

"There is no inherent contradiction between respecting the result of the referendum and having a People's Vote, not least because it's still not sure how a People's Vote would pan out," she told the BBC.

But, writing for PoliticsHome, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said that voters in her Greater Manchester constituency were "bewildered" by calls for a fresh public vote on EU membership.

"People have different views on what should happen next," she said.

"Very few on either side seem to have changed their minds.

"But almost universally on the doorstep questions about a second referendum are largely greeted with bewilderment.

"I am reminded frequently that we’ve had one already and it’s time for Parliament to get on with it. To many it seems absurd."

But according the the Daily Mirror, Jeremy Corbyn is preparing to throw Labour's weight behind a second referendum in all circumstances within days.