EXCL Labour whips 'braced for more resignations' after Tristram Hunt quits

Posted On: 
13th January 2017

Labour bosses are braced for the resignation of "dozens" of MPs after Tristram Hunt became the latest to quit parliament for a job in the private sector.

More Labour MPs are planning to quit parliament
Credit: 
PA Images

PoliticsHome revealed this morning that the Stoke-on-Central MP was standing down to become the new director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

His announcement comes less than a month after Copeland MP Jamie Reed revealed he was resigning his seat to take up a job in the nuclear industry.

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It means Labour is facing two tricky by-elections at a time when it is trailing well behind the Conservatives in the national polls.

Gloomy Labour MPs today predicted that "scores" of their colleagues are also on the lookout for new jobs ahead of the next general election.

One told PoliticsHome: "It's a truly depressing indication of what Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are doing to the Labour party when people like Tristram Hunt and Jamie Reed are leaving parliament.

"There will be a queue of Labour MPs now asking both how they planned their escape. The leader and his supporters will rejoice - both have been targeted by the hard left for a long time

"Given the opportunity, scores of Labour MPs will follow the lead of Reed and Hunt. The whips know it and are braced for more departures."

A former shadow minister said: "It's Tristram's dream job and I don't blame him for going. His intellectual calibre was clear for everyone to see, as indeed was his political talent and ambition.

"Being a backbench MP with no prospect of power wasn't really what Tristram signed up for. Good luck to him and God help the rest of us."

Mr Hunt was first elected in 2010, and served in Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet. However, the leading moderate refused to join Mr Corbyn's frontbench.

One former Shadow Cabinet member said: "The majority of the 2010 and 2015 intake took a pay cut to become an MP, so the idea that people are doing it for the money is nonsense.

"A lot of people were high-flyers before they became MPs, and those are the people who will go. 

"The definition of getting things done under Jeremy is standing around holding a piece of cardboard saying 'down with the Tory cuts', while losing every significant vote in parliament. That situation is only going to get much, much worse after the next election.

"For people who came into politics to get things done, the Labour party is no longer the place for them."

Mr Hunt retained his seat at the 2015 election with a 5,100 majority from Ukip. The by-election will be a three-way marginal, as the Tories were only beaten into third place by 33 votes.

Former Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham is also standing down to be Labour's candidate for mayor of Greater Manchester, while Steve Rotheram - Mr Corbyn's parliamentary aide - is resigning his Liverpool Walton seat in his bid to become mayor of the city.

One Labour MP said: "Tristram has been talking about this for a while, so it's no surprise that he's decided to go.

"There are scores of us who would quit if we had another job to go to because we know that the party has no chance at the next election."