Lawmakers Quit Labour Top Ranks After Corbyn Purge

Jeremy Corbyn’s removal of critics for the party’s shadow cabinet prompts others to step down.

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn makes a speech in Aberdeen, Scotland
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn makes a speech in Aberdeen, Scotland (PA)

Three lawmakers quit the British Labour Party’s top ranks on Wednesday after Jeremy Corbyn, their leader, had purged two of his critics from the shadow cabinet.

Stephen Doughty, the shadow foreign affairs minister, Kevan Jones, the shadow defense minister, and Jonathan Reynolds, shadow rail minister, all stepped down after Corbyn removed two other opponents: Michael Dugher, the shadow media secretary, and Pat McFadden, the shadow Europe minister.

Jones quit his role after Corbyn replaced Maria Eagle as shadow defense secretary with Emily Thornberry. The former took Dugher’s place as shadow media secretary.

Unlike Eagle, Thornberry opposes the renewal of Britain’s nuclear submarine deterrent, Trident. So does Corbyn, a longtime pacifist and advocate of unilateral disarmament.

“Disloyalty”

McFadden was accused of “disloyalty” after insisting, in the wake of a series of shootings and suicide bombings in Paris late last year that left more than 130 dead, that terrorists are solely responsible for their own actions.

Corbyn “clearly interpreted that as an attack on him,” McFadden told reporters on Wednesday.

Stop the War, a far-left pacifist group that Corbyn used to chair, blamed Western policy in the Middle East for the Paris attacks, saying France was “reaping the whirlwind” of an “extremist” foreign policy.

Corbyn refused to distance himself from those remarks, despite urgings from his colleagues.

In his resignation letter, Reynolds backed McFadden’s comments.

Doughty, for his part, told the BBC that McFadden had been “singled out for punishment for speaking with honesty and principle.”

Trident

Peter Mandelson, an architect of the centrist New Labour that Corbyn has repudiated, told Newsweek that his shadow cabinet reshuffle was meant to do one thing: “changing Labour policy in order to strip away Britain’s nuclear defence and removing or intimidating those who would stand in the way of this.”

After he was elected leader in September with 60 percent support from party members — but almost no backing from other lawmakers — Corbyn said he would never authorize the use of Britain’s nuclear weapons as prime minister.

“I think we should be promoting an international nuclear weapons convention which would lead to a nuclear-free world,” he told BBC radio at the time.

Eagle, then still shadow defense secretary, said Corbyn’s comments “undermined to some degree” Labour’s policy, which — formally — is to keep the Trident submarines.

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