Labour downplays new Shadow Home Secretary's past calls for Corbyn to resign

Posted On: 
7th June 2017

John McDonnell has brushed off the fact that Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary going into the general election once described Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership as “untenable”. 

Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected Labour leader last year after a challenge from his own MPs
Credit: 
PA Images

Lyn Brown is standing in temporarily for Diane Abbott, who says she will “rejoin the fray soon” after taking a break from her frontbench responsibilities as she deals with a period of ill health.

Ms Brown quit her shadow ministerial post last July after an overwhelming vote of no confidence in Mr Corbyn’s leadership by the parliamentary Labour party.  

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She said the “situation has become untenable”, and urged Mr Corbyn to resign.

“Following the overwhelming vote of the parliamentary Labour party, it was with a heavy heart that I concluded that we had reached a tipping point and, for the good of the party and the country, I believe that we should seek a new leader,” Ms Brown explained.

After Mr Corbyn won a second leadership contest she returned to the frontbench in her role as Shadow Policing Minister.

Mr McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor and long-time ally of Mr Corbyn, said Ms Brown was one of a number of former critics of Mr Corbyn to have changed her mind.

“That [“untenable” comment] was in the heat of some of the debates within the parliamentary Labour party,” he told the BBC’s World at One.

“What’s been interesting since then is a number of people who were sceptical about Jeremy at that point in time have come out and said ‘look, we’ve seen him in the campaign, we’ve seen what he can do, and this is the most honest and decent and principled and strong leader that we’ve had – maybe in generations’.”

Ms Abbott’s temporary replacement was announced this morning after she pulled out of two planned election campaign appearances yesterday.

She tweeted this afternoon: “Touched by all the messages of support. Still standing! Will rejoin the fray soon. Vote Labour!”

Mr Corbyn earlier hit out at the “unfair levels of attack and abuse” aimed at Ms Abbott, as he confirmed she was “taking a break from the campaign”.

The Conservatives yesterday accused Labour of “hiding” Ms Abbott after a number of difficult interviews.

Theresa May today commented on today’s developments, telling reporters: “How Jeremy Corbyn manages his Shadow Cabinet is for him. I just wish Diane a speedy recovery.”