Clive Lewis: 'Legitimate argument' for deselection of hostile Labour MPs
There is a “legitimate argument” for deselecting MPs who do not reflect the Labour membership, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies in the PLP has said.
Clive Lewis, the Shadow Defence Secretary, argued that ousting sitting members could be seen as “democratic election”.
His comments come amid reports that the Mr Corbyn’s supporters could be working to try to get a slate of more left-wing candidates in place for the next general election.
Two members of the National Executive Committee have already said mandatory reselection should be discussed.
Mr Lewis this morning said it should be for the members to decide who represents them in Parliament.
“I think we’ve had a very robust debate in the party this year,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
“Deselection hasn’t come up, as I understand, as an issue. If it does, as far as I’m concerned that’s a democratic choice for our members.”
The Labour MP added: “You call it deselection – the other word for it is actually democratic election for your representatives in Parliament and I think there’s a legitimate argument for that.”
A major investigation by Dispatches and the Sunday Times has detailed allegations of Momentum activists trying to increase their influence in different constituency Labour parties (CLPs).
Mr Lewis dismissed the report as more “reds under the beds scare stories”, and said he believed Momentum was part of a renewal of debate within the Labour party.
He highlighted the reformation of the Tribune group, relaunched today by Labour MPs Clive Efford and Ian Lucas, as further evidence.
“It’s really healthy that we have these groups who are debating and coming out with ideas," he said.
"The PLP isn’t homogenous: there are people in the PLP who will support Jeremy Corbyn, who will come back and work with him, and there will be a small group, I’m sure, who will refuse to do that.”