EXCL Jess Phillips blocked from seat on Commons watchdog after Labour pulls support

Posted On: 
29th November 2018

Labour MP Jess Phillips was blocked from taking a seat on the Commons sleaze watchdog after her own party's bosses withdrew their support, PoliticsHome has learned.

Labour had initially nominated Jess Phillips for a place on the Standards Committee.
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The Birmingham Yardley MP had been nominated by Labour to replace Sir Kevin Barron on the Standards and Privileges Committee.

Her name was even printed on the House of Commons order paper for 19 November, when MPs were expected to formally endorse a motion approving her appointment.

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But at the last minute, Labour indicated that other MPs are now interested in taking up the vacancy and so the motion was not moved.

Ms Phillips, an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn, hit out at the appointment process, which sees party leaders and their whips given the power to nominate committee members.

She said that ran the risk of committees being stuffed with "yes men" who will do the bidding of party bosses rather than act independently.

"If it is the case that others wanted to go on the Standards Committee I'm really pleased that there is interest in this important role," Ms Phillips told PoliticsHome.

"What worries me about the fact that my nomination was stopped is that it highlights that the current process is that party leaders have power over who goes on the Standards Committee - apart from the chair - and lays bare a flaw where once again political patronage and protection can subvert a process that now more than ever needs to be trusted.

"Surely political parties could just fill it with yes men. I don't think this has ever been the case, so I'm not sure why my nomination was withdrawn.

"I think Labour putting me on the committee, after my months of efforts and work along with the previous and current chair of the Standards Committee to try to improve the independent parliamentary system and ensure it can be trusted, would have sent a really strong message. I very much still hope to take up the role."

A Labour source said: "Other members have asked to be considered for the appointment following the vacancy created by Sir Kevin Barron standing down."

Labour has been approached for comment.