Tulip Siddiq quits Labour frontbench after Jeremy Corbyn imposes hard Article 50 whip
Top Labour MP Tulip Siddiq dramatically quit the frontbench today after Jeremy Corbyn ordered his MPs to back the Government’s Article 50 bill.
The Shadow Education Minister said she did not intend to “cause more complications” to the Labour leader but was left with no choice but to vote against the bill to represent constituents.
Her Hampstead and Kilburn constituency voted around 77% for Remain at the EU referendum according to analysis of the results by political academic Chris Hanretty.
After a week of speculation, the Labour leader today confirmed his MPs would be ordered to support the Government’s bill calling for the triggering of the Brexit process.
In a resignation letter released tonight, Ms Siddiq said her priority was to “ensure that the voices of people from Hampstead and Kilburn are represented in Parliament”.
“On the announcement of the three line whip on the Article 50 vote, I therefore feel I have no choice but to resign from my front bench role as Shadow Minister for Early Years,” she said.
“I do not support the triggering of Article 50 and cannot reconcile myself to the front bench position.”
She added: “I know you have a difficult job as our Leader and it is not my intention to cause more complications for you.
“We are both united in our values of fairness, social justice and equality and I know you, above everyone else, will recognise my commitment to my local constituents.”
LABOUR MPS TOE THE LINE
Meanwhile other prominent names in Mr Corbyn’s top team have backtracked after signalling they could vote against the Article 50 bill.
Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis - who last week said it would not be in the “best interests” of his constituents for him to trigger the process of quitting the EU - today vowed to tow the line imposed by Mr Corbyn.
Cat Smith, the Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, who was also reported to have strongly argued against the imposition of a whip, confirmed on Twitter today that she will back the legislation.
Thangam Debbonaire, one of Labour's whips is also set to defy the whip if it is imposed, according to Business Insider.
Shadow Foreign Office minister Catherine West had earlier said she could not support her party’s position given her Hornsey and Woodgreen constituency “secured the highest remain vote in the UK”.
Jo Stevens, the Shadow Wales Secretary, who was also reported to be against the imposition of a three-line whip, was also unavailable when contacted.
A host of backbench MPs have also vowed to defy the leadership by voting down the legislation, with Owen Smith, Louise Ellman, Ben Bradshaw, David Lammy and Daniel Zeichner earlier this week all vowing to vote down the bill when presented to MPs.
'CLEARLY A THREE-LINE WHIP'
Following a meeting of the Shadow Cabinet, Mr Corbyn confirmed he would place a three-line whip on his MPs to back triggering Article 50.
He told Sky News: “It will be a clear decision that we want all of our MPs to support the Article 50 vote when it comes up next week. It’s clearly a three-line whip.”
The Labour leader acknowledged that many of his MPs represent constituencies that backed Remain at the referendum, but urged them to “unite” around the party’s policy.
Commons Leader David Lidington announced today that MPs would get just five days to debate the legislation, with the second reading of the bill scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn has moved to rally his MPs behind a handful of proposed amendments to the Article 50 bill guaranteeing rights and increasing Government scrutiny during the Brexit process.
Among them are proposals to retain existing EU tax avoidance measures and put the Joint Ministerial Council - set up for the devolved administrations to have their say - on a statutory footing.
Mr Corbyn said: "Labour will seek to amend the Article 50 Bill to prevent the Government using Brexit to turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven off the coast of Europe. Our country can do much better than that.
“We respect the will of the British people, but not the will of this Tory government to impose fewer rights at work and worse public services, while the largest corporations pay even less tax.
“Labour will ensure that the British people, through Parliament, have genuine accountability and oversight over the Brexit negotiations because no one voted to give Prime Minister Theresa May a free hand over our future."