Labour frontbencher Clive Lewis: I want to go into government with Green MP Caroline Lucas

Posted On: 
27th July 2016

Clive Lewis caused bewilderment among Labour MPs today by saying he wants to be in government with Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Clive Lewis says Labour should form "progressive alliances" with other parties' MPs
PA Images

The Shadow Defence Secretary said Labour should try to make "progressive alliances" with other left-of-centre parties to defeat the Conservatives.

He also announced that he was backing Jeremy Corbyn's bid to be re-elected the party's leader - even though he admitted that his performance in the job "has not been good enough yet".

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Mr Lewis made his outspoken remarks in an article for The Guardian.

The Norwich South MP said Labour MPs should reach out to colleagues in other parties on issues like voting reform.

He added: "Such progressive alliances are now essential not just because that is the only way we can beat the Tories but because that is the way we will make better decisions and take more of the country with us.

"Frankly, I want to be in government with Caroline Lucas, not against her – and certainly not in permanent opposition."

But one Labour MP told PoliticsHome: "They're welcome to each other. Maybe they could do a job share as Defence Secretary. They could replace army bases with a series of recycling centres. Rename one of the aircraft carriers 'Rainbow Warrior 2'. Insist that the Chief of Defence Staff is a vegan. The possibilities are endless."

On his decision to back Mr Corbyn again rather than switch to his leadership rival Owen Smith, Mr Lewis said: "We have to be honest with ourselves. Corbyn’s leadership has struggled. 

"There are good reasons for this – not least the almost permanent attack from the media and sections of the PLP, which have been destabilising from day one. But we must also acknowledge that the leadership of the party has not been good enough yet – that is Corbyn’s fault, just as much as it is mine and my colleagues. Alliances have not yet been built; big ideas have not yet been developed."

The frontbencher also warned that the party could "die" unless it unites behind whoever is declared leader on 24 September.