Jeremy Corbyn critic Jamie Reed triggers by-election by quitting as Labour MP

Posted On: 
21st December 2016

Labour MP Jamie Reed dramatically quit today - triggering a by-election in his marginal seat.

Jamie Reed has stunned Westminster by resigning as an MP.
PA Images

The former frontbencher, who has represented Copeland since 2005, is leaving Westminster to take up a job in the nuclear industry.

Mr Reed has been one of Jeremy Corbyn's most vocal critics, and famously quit as shadow health minister during the leader's acceptance speech after he was first elected to the top job last year.

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However, he told The Guardian: "This decision has got absolutely nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn. On a personal level I’ve got a very cordial relationship.

"One of the reasons that I am moving on is because I think there’s a better way of doing that (serving his community) right now than to remain as a member of parliament."

The father-of-four also said the six-hour weekly journey from his constituency to Westminster also made his family life very difficult.

"I know that there will be literally hundreds of thousands of people in the same situation I am, working on shifts or oil rigs or tanker drivers or you name it, mothers and fathers, but I’ve always found that difficult,” he told The Guardian.

"The truth is that I’m finding it increasingly difficult. And the decision that I’m making is the hardest one I’ve ever made but it’s undoubtedly the best thing for me to do for my family."

Mr Reed will formally stand down from his seat at the end of January to join Sellafield Ltd as its head of development and community relations.

His resignation will spark a close by-election contest in his marginal seat, which he retained last year with a majority of 2,564 over his Conservative rival.

In a letter to Mr Corbyn today, Mr Reed said quitting politics was "the hardest decision of my life".

He said: "I am proud of what I have achieved over the last 12 years with the help and support of the Copeland community and the last Labour government.

"Communities like mine have felt the painful impact of Conservative policy more than other areas of the country; in local government, in education, in infrastructure investment, but most of all within the NHS. We desperately need a Labour government so that communities like mine can build the future they deserve.

"I wish you every success in your endeavours to become our next Labour Prime Minister."


Writing for PoliticsHome in August, Mr Reed said Jeremy Corbyn's refusal to say that he would authorise military action in support of another Nato member were "a deliberate attempt to both humiliate and divide the Labour party".

He said: "That Jeremy should resign his position is beyond doubt. That he is driving millions of traditional Labour voters away from the party is beyond dispute. Sooner or later, this mendacity will end. In the meantime, saturated in shame and humiliation, Labour voters will continue to desert the party created to represent their interests in the full and certain knowledge that the leader of the Labour party knows exactly what he is doing and has no interest in retaining their support.

"It’s time for Jeremy to take his own advice. He should give up, go home and go away."

In response to Mr Reed standing down, Labour MP Wes Streeting vowed that Labour would be "election ready" for the by-election that will follow.