Paul Flynn scolds Len McCluskey for urging rebel Labour MPs to quit

Posted On: 
27th September 2016

A Shadow Cabinet member has rebuked Len McCluskey after he told MPs unwilling to back Jeremy Corbyn that they should quit.

Labour MP Paul Flynn is the oldest MP to hold a Shadow Cabinet post for more than 100 years
PA Images

The Unite boss won a rousing ovation when told the Labour party conference yesterday that disloyal backbenchers should "depart the battlefields".

But 81-year-old Mr Flynn, the Shadow Welsh Secretary and Shadow Commons leader, said that was the wrong message to send out.

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“Len McCluskey made a great speech for unity yesterday, but there is one phrase in it, the one he stole from Shakespeare, I must disagree with,” he told the conference today.

“Because he did say that some should depart the field. No, No No. The Tories are already have their A team on the field, and we have some of our best people sitting there on the subs bench.”

He added: “You don’t score goals from the subs bench. We need them all back.”

Mr Flynn said it would take courage for the shadow ministers quit their posts en masse in protest at Mr Corbyn’s leadership to come back to the fold.

But he argued: “We must make it possible for them to return with dignity and respect.”

The Newport West MP said the party must “give unity a chance” after a year of bitter infighting and a bruising leadership contest which saw Mr Corbyn re-elected.

He said: “What we should do is take all the bile and the hatred together, put it in a box, bury it deep underground, put six feet of concrete on top and then put a sign saying ‘never should the last 12 months be unearthed from its dishonoured grave’.

“We are going forward comrades, to government.”

Mr Corbyn was re-elected Labour leader on Saturday in the race against Owen Smith, increasing his mandate with an even larger vote share than when he won last year.