Keir Starmer 'considered resigning after clash with Jeremy Corbyn' over Brexit

Posted On: 
19th September 2018

Keir Starmer came close to resigning as Shadow Brexit Secretary after a clash with Jeremy Corbyn over the customs union, it has been claimed.

Mr Starmer was reportedly close to resigning over the row.
Credit: 
PA Images

According to the Guardian, the heated row broke out during a tense meeting of Labour’s Brexit subcommittee earlier this year, with allies of Mr Corbyn reportedly moving to kill off the Shadow Brexit Secretary's plan for the UK to seek a new customs union with the EU.

One MP present at the meeting told the paper: "He looked close to telling them to shove it – and I think that did count for something. I think Jeremy was slightly surprised at how angry Keir was, and how pissed off he was."

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Another witness meanwhile added: "Jeremy started speaking, and Keir just said enough, this was completely outrageous. He did lose his temper. I think they were genuinely shocked at his reaction. They tried to bounce him and it completely backfired."

The party had been split over the proposal to join a customs union, with some senior figures arguing that calling for such a move would be the only way to avoid a hard border in Norther Ireland.

But other senior frontbenchers, including Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett, believed that adopting the plans would embolden outspoken pro-Remain MPs on the party’s backbenches.

Eventually, the party committed to joining a new customs union with the EU, but stopped short of advocating re-joining the single market.

A source close to Mr Starmer told the Guardian that the discussions had been robust, but said the frontbencher had not come close to resigning.

WATSON ROW

The reported split between the Labour top team came amid reports of a fresh row between Mr Corbyn and his deputy Tom Watson.

According to the Sun, Mr Watson was left fuming after he was bumped from the top speaking slots at the party’s conference and took aim at Mr Corbyn’s staff for leaking his concerns to the left-wing blog Skwawkbox during a stormy meeting of the shadow cabinet.

When Mr Watson was told to address his concerns to Mr Corbyn’s political secretary Amy Jackson, he reportedly lashed out: “I won’t, because the last time I did that it ended up on Skwawkbox.”

The deputy leader's outburst is said to have prompted fury from some women in the shadow Cabinet, with one MP in attendance saying: "His attack on a female member of staff was roundly criticised by other members of the shadow cabinet."