Two Labour MPs resign as whips after Rosie Winterton sacking

Labour Party Scrabble

Two Labour MPs have resigned as Labour whips following the removal of Rosie Winterton, their boss and the party’s former shadow chief whip, in Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle.

Conor McGinn and Holly Lynch had served for a year since being elected to parliament and would be replaced shortly, a spokesman for Corbyn’s office said. It comes after the Labour leader was accused of abandoning plans to reunite the party after sacking Winterton on Thursday.

Officially, Lynch, the MP for Halifax, has stepped down as she prepares to defend a slender majority of 428 votes, while McGinn wants to spend more time with a young family. But friends of the MPs have said they were both close to Winterton and were “shocked and angered” by the decision to get rid of the party veteran who had served under three different leaders. They both resigned by telephone on Sunday.

Winterton thought she was attending a meeting about shadow chancellor elections when she was removed from office to be replaced by Nick Brown, Gordon Brown’s former enforcer. Brown was expecting to continue with the same team as Winterton.

Reacting to the resignation, a Labour source said McGinn was “going to be sacked anyway” amid claims swirling around the leader’s office that the MP for St Helens North had helped to organise shadow cabinet resignations in June. It is understood that McGinn has flatly denied such claims.

Meanwhile, senior Labour figures who have been vehemently opposed to Corbyn’s leadership have called on their colleagues to pull together to oppose the government. Pat McFadden, whose own sacking by Corbyn back in January led to a number of other frontbenchers standing down, said it was time to set aside the disagreements and concentrate on securing Labour’s future. “There’s been too much internal focus here on whether the shadow cabinet is elected or appointed by the leader and so on,” the former shadow Europe minister told Sky News.

John Mann, the MP for Bassetlaw, said: “It’s his choice of team and I think we should get on with the job now. He’s won, whether people like it or not, and the last thing we want, I think, is a year of internalised, inward-looking Labour navel-gazing like the last year.”

In the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s reshuffle, Labour MPs said they were “shocked and aggrieved” by the “very unfair treatment” of Winterton, saying “discussions could lead to resignations”.

Some MPs expressed dismay at the way close allies of Corbyn were given top jobs. Shami Chakrabarti was appointed shadow attorney general, Diane Abbott named shadow home secretary, Jo Stevens chosen as shadow Wales secretary, and Sarah Champion became shadow women and equalities minister.

The chair of the parliamentary Labour party, John Cryer, accused Corbyn of failing to engage in talks in a constructive way over the reshuffle.

Corbyn’s supporters dominate the membership of the party, while the PLP is dominated by those opposed to him.

A spokesman for Corbyn said: “We thank Conor McGinn and Holly Lynch for their service. Their positions will be filled in due course.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rajeev Syal, for theguardian.com on Sunday 9th October 2016 16.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010