Jeremy Corbyn ally Chris Williamson agrees to leave Labour frontbench after council tax gaffe

Posted On: 
11th January 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has sacked one of his closest allies from the Labour frontbench after he called for council tax to be doubled on high-value homes.

Chris Williamson has been one of Jeremy Corbyn's keenest supporters.

Shadow fire minister Chris Williamson said the the idea - which would affect properties worth more than £320,000 - was a "desperate measure" born out of frustration with "relentless" cuts to public spending.

But he was immediately criticised for floating the proposal just four months before the local elections in London, where the vast majority of householders would see their council tax bills rise dramatically if it was introduced.

Jeremy Corbyn ally Chris Williamson calls for council tax to be doubled on high-value homes

Jewish group urges Labour to sack Chris Williamson over anti-semitism comments

WATCH Labour frontbencher Chris Williamson hits out at US 'interference' in Venezuela turmoil

Derby North MP Mr Williamson said he was quitting the frontbench so he could campaign "on a broader range of issues".

But a source close to Mr Corbyn confirmed his departure was "a mutual decision" and added: "We are not considering his council tax proposals."

In a statement, Mr Williamson said: "I will be standing down from my role with immediate effect so that I can return to the backbenches, where I will be campaigning on a broader range of issues.

"I will continue to loyally support the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn from the backbenches and hope to be a voice for the party's members."

In response, Mr Corbyn said: "I am grateful for Chris' work on the frontbench, particularly on fire safety following the appalling Grenfell Tower fire. I know that on the backbenches, Chris will be a strong campaigner on a range of crucial issues as well as serving his constituents with dedication."

The council tax proposal was not the first time that Mr Williamson has hit the headlines since being re-elected to parliament last June.

He was criticised last August for suggesting that women-only train carriages should be introduced to cut down on sex attacks.

Later the same month, he caused further controversy by saying allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party were a "dirty lowdown trick" being used for "political ends" by Jeremy Corbyn's opponents.

And in December, he filmed a Christmas video containing a thinly-veiled warning that anti-Corbyn Labour MPs should face the threat of deselection.