Labour MPs threaten to quit the party in Parliament and become independents if left-wing activists deselect them

Labour MPs’ threat to quit over purge by left wing

Moderate Labour MPs are threatening to quit and sit as independents in the Commons if they are deselected as the left tightens its grip on the party.

The warning kicks off a new battle between self-described ‘moderates’ and left-wingers who have clinched power on Labour’s ruling body.


A landslide election result yesterday tipped the National Executive Committee (NEC) more or less in favour of Jeremy Corbyn and his left-slate allies.

This would make it easier to force MPs to face mandatory reselection after a review of Labour process reports back in the near future.

Prominent Jeremy Corbyn backer Paul Mason declared today: “Just like when we go to the coffee shop and get to choose between latte, cappuccino and tea, I want once in every five years to have it hanging over every lawmaker that they could be deselected if they don’t do their job properly.”

Momentum founder Jon Lansman, one of three new NEC members, told the Mirror last year: “We will not be campaigning to deselect anybody, but I am in favour of democratic selection processes.”

‘Moderate’ MPs fear reprisal by their local branches of the Labour membership, which has almost tripled under Jeremy Corbyn after his ideals inspired left-wingers to join.

But even if MPs were deselected by their party, they would be guaranteed their place as MPs regardless until the next general election.

So anonymous MPs have now warned The Times and the Daily Mail that they would quit the party’s grouping in the Commons and sit as independents if they are deselected by their local members.

That could leave Jeremy Corbyn and his whips down on numbers to win Commons votes for years before the MPs are ousted, or not, by the public at the next general election.

One told the Mail: “We would have no interest in toeing the line”.

Comedian Eddie Izzard, who failed to win an NEC seat, urged Jeremy Corbyn to put a stop to any move towards deselections.

“If we have all our time fighting against each other, I just don’t think that’s the way to go forward,” he told the BBC.

“We should be further ahead of the Tory party in the polls and that’s what I want to see. I would urge Jeremy to say ‘come on, let’s keep our eye on the prize’.”

Another MP told the Mirror: “It’s very serious and there is a risk of the Labour Party splitting.

“This would be a disaster for everyone concerned. The atmosphere since last year’s election has been a lot more collegial than the last Parliament – the leadership should be looking to build on that.

“Under the current rules every member already gets a vote on whether to keep their current MP or open up a full selection process. This talk of mandatory re-selections is both divisive and unnecessary.”

Currently sitting Labour MPs face a “trigger ballot” where each local branch, union branch and affiliated society branch in a constituency gets a single block vote on whether to keep them before a general election.

Only if they lose this block vote do they face a full-scale selection vote, pitted against rival candidates.

It’s suggested Labour could effectively skip straight to this step before each election – giving MPs no upper hand if they’re already in Parliament.

The issue could be addressed in an ongoing three-stage ‘democracy review’ that is being led by Jeremy Corbyn’s loyal political secretary Katy Clark.

She will present an initial report on the first stage of the review, concerning Young Labour, ethnic minorities and Women’s Conference, to the first meeting of the new-look NEC on Tuesday next week.

However a source at party HQ suggested the further two stages may only report back after Labour’s party conference in September.

Labour’s conference would have a final vote on many proposals, so this would mean some may not become party policy until late 2019.

A source close to Jeremy Corbyn told the Mirror: “Jeremy won’t introduce mandatory reselection for sitting MPs.”

Asked if the Labour leader would vote against anyone else’s motion to do so, the source avoided the question claiming it was “majorly hypothetical territory.”

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