Row breaks out as former Labour MPs are 'purged' from Commons committee

Posted On: 
20th March 2019

Labour has been accused of launching a "purge" against two of the party's former MPs after they were removed from a top House of Commons committee.

Ian Austin was one of two former Labour MPs removed from the committee.
Credit: 
PA

MPs voted to replace Mike Gapes and Ian Austin - longstanding critics of Jeremy Corbyn who both quit Labour last month - on the cross-party Foreign Affairs Committee.

A motion to remove the now-independent MPs was passed by 199 votes to 134, with Labour MPs on a three-line whip to vote in favour of the move.

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But that triggered an angry backlash from the two MPs as well as some of their former colleagues on the Labour benches.

Mr Gapes, who quit last month to join the new Independent Group, said the decision marked "a sad day for the independence of select committees".

Mr Austin - who has been scathing about Labour's handling of anti-Semitism among members - meanwhile said he had been removed from the committee because he "stood up to racism".

 

 

He added: "That the Labour party abstain on votes to ban hezbollah but impose a three line whip to vote against me tells you all you need to know about what has happened under Jeremy Corbyn."

But a Labour party spokesperson said: "Select committee and delegation places are allocated on the basis of the size of parties at the general election.

"It's only right that the Labour Party fills its allocation - just as every other party does - and gives a voice to Labour voters in Parliament."

'INTOLERANT'

According to the Commons division list, 13 Labour MPs defied the three-line whip to vote against the motion.

They included Wes Streeting, Siobhain McDonagh, Margaret Hodge and Ian Murray, while David Lammy and Chris Bryant voted both for and against the motion, a move seen as an abstention.

Speaking in the debate, Ms McDonagh said: "We all know that this measure is a vindictive one.

"It shames our Whips — I say that as somebody who has been a Government Whip — to be involved in this manoeuvre today."

She added: "They are not being removed for any disciplinary issue or for not being up to the mark.

"They are being removed because of their politics — because my party has become intolerant and unwilling to listen to other voices."

Conservative Simon Hoare meanwhile branded it a "mealy-mouthed, vindictive and small-minded" motion.