Trio quit in protest after UK Labour reshuffle

6th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Three MPs quit the main opposition Labour Party's frontbench team Wednesday in protest over leader Jeremy Corbyn's reshuffle in which a string of critics lost their jobs, highlighting deep divisions.

Corbyn, the veteran socialist elected leader in September, sacked two of his spokesmen and demoted his defence spokeswoman, who favoured retaining Britain's nuclear deterrent in opposition to his own views, during a reshuffle that took three days.

Since Corbyn took over, the party has been split between centrists who broadly identify with the policies of former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and left-wingers, particularly grassroots activists, who voted in Corbyn as leader.

Following the reshuffle, three other frontbenchers quit in response.

Jonathan Reynolds and Stephen Doughty left over the sacking of Europe spokesman Pat McFadden, which revolved around what a party source speaking on condition of anonymity called his "disloyalty".

In the wake of the Paris attacks, he had asked Prime Minister David Cameron if he agreed that Western actions were not always the cause of terrorism -- interpreted by Corbyn's inner circle as an attack on the leader's views.

Kevan Jones then quit as a junior defence spokesman over the way his former boss Maria Eagle was shunted out of her post into the lesser culture brief and replaced with Emily Thornberry, whose views on nuclear weapons are closer to Corbyn, who opposes them.

"Jeremy was elected with the strapline 'straight-talking, honest politics'," Jones told BBC radio.

"There has been nothing straightforward or honest about what's gone on over the last 48 hours."

Doughty quit his junior foreign affairs brief live on BBC television, saying Corbyn's office had told "lies" about why McFadden had been dismissed.

Shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher was also dismissed from Corbyn's shadow cabinet on Tuesday.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron mocked Corbyn's "revenge reshuffle" in their exchanges in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Given the "frankly laughable" amount of time it took to enact the minor reshuffle, Cameron said Corbyn "couldn't run anything", let alone the government.

© 2016 AFP

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