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Labour MP quits party’s shadow cabinet with attack on Starmer’s leadership

Written by on 27/09/2021

A Labour MP has quit the party’s shadow cabinet with an attack on Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership.

Andy McDonald, who had been shadow secretary of state for employment rights and protections, said his position as a member of Sir Keir’s top team had become “untenable”.

The 63-year-old, who has been MP for Middlesbrough since 2012, previously served in former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet and is a close ally of Sir Keir’s predecessor.

Prior to the news of his resignation on Monday, Mr McDonald had been criticised for planning to co-host a conference event with Mr Corbyn, who is currently suspended as a Labour MP as part of an antisemitism row.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (fourth left) walks with (left to right) shadow cabinet members chancellor John McDonnell, mental health and social care secretary Barbara Keeley, business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, communities secretary Andrew Gwynne and transport secretary Andy McDonald, during a walkabout at MediaCityUK in Salford prior to holding a shadow cabinet meeting.
Image: Mr McDonald previously served in Jeremy Corbyn’s top team and is close to the former Labour leader

In a resignation letter to Sir Keir on Monday, Mr McDonald claimed he had been told by Sir Keir’s office on Sunday to go into a meeting “to argue against a national minimum wage of £15 an hour and against statutory sick pay at the living wage”.

“This is something I could not do,” Mr McDonald wrote.

“After many months of a pandemic when we made commitments to stand by key workers, I cannot now look these same workers in the eye and tell them they are not worth a wage that is enough to live on, or that they don’t deserve security when they are ill.”

More on Keir Starmer

And, in a further attack on Sir Keir, Mr McDonald added: “I joined your frontbench team on the basis of the pledges that you made in the leadership campaign to bring about unity within the party and maintain our commitment to socialist policies.

“After 18 months of your leadership, our movement is more divided than ever and the pledges that you made to the membership are not being honoured.”

Labour’s former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, another ally of Mr Corbyn, paid tribute to Mr McDonald’s “terrific” record as a shadow minister.

“He has resigned on a point of principle that workers should have decent pay,” Mr McDonnell posted on Twitter.

Left-wing campaign group Momentum, which grew out of Mr Corbyn’s two successful leadership campaigns, claimed Mr McDonald’s resignation showed how Sir Keir was “out of touch” with working people.

“Labour has to be the party of working people not bosses,”said Mish Rahman, a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee and Momentum’s National Coordinating Group.

“During the leadership election, it seemed like Starmer understood this – but this resignation proves he does not.”

“By asking a shadow minister to argue against a higher minimum wage and decent sick pay he has demonstrated just how put of touch he is with working people.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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