Labour MP Tulip Siddiq resigns from frontbench

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Dhaka : Shadow minister Tulip Siddiq has resigned from the Labour frontbench, telling the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, that she could not reconcile herself to the party’s three-line whip to vote for triggering article 50.

In her letter to Corbyn, the shadow minister for early years said voting to start the process of leaving the EU would be a betrayal of her north London constituents, three-quarters of whom voted to remain in the EU, reports The Guardian.

‘I have always been clear—I do not represent Westminster in Hampstead and Kilburn, I represent Hampstead and Kilburn in Westminster,’ Siddiq wrote in her resignation letter. ‘I feel that the most effective place for me to counter Theresa May’s hard Brexit is from the backbenches.’

Siddiq said she had made the final decision to resign after Corbyn confirmed to the shadow cabinet on Thursday morning that Labour MPs would be expected to back the article 50 bill and a three-line whip would be imposed. ‘I do not support the triggering of article 50 and cannot reconcile myself to the frontbench position,’ she wrote in her letter to Corbyn.

Siddiq was first elected in May 2015 with a majority of just 1,138, and appointed to the Labour frontbench in Corbyn’s reshuffle following his reelection in September.

About 75 per cent of Siddiq’s constituents voted remain in the EU referendum. Her Hampstead and Kilburn seat is a tight three-way marginal and in 2010 her predecessor, Glenda Jackson, had the smallest majority in the country, with just 42 votes more than her Conservative rival.

The Lib Dems also have a strong presence, with their candidate in third place on just 841 fewer votes than Jackson in 2010.

In her resignation letter to Corbyn, Siddiq wrote: ‘Leaving the European Union presents enormous uncertainty for my constituents, with most believing that the disadvantages of leaving outweigh any potential benefits. Many still don’t have firm guarantees that their residential rights will be protected after Brexit.’

Siddiq said she had real concerns about giving the government the nod to proceed with leaving the EU without guarantees on membership of security agencies, environmental or employment rights.

The MP said she understood Corbyn had a difficult job as leader and ‘it is not my intention to cause more complications’ but added she believed that Corbyn would understand her commitment to her constituents. ‘We are both united in our values of fairness, social justice and equality and I know you, above everyone else, will recognise my commitment to my local constituents,’ she wrote.

‘I will look carefully at amendments brought to the debate, consider them in their own right and work constructively to develop such guarantees. I support Keir Starmer and my Labour colleagues, and know they are working to get the best deal for Britain throughout this process.’

Corbyn told Sky News on Thursday the bill was ‘clearly a three-line whip’, but acknowledged it would be difficult for some MPs.

‘I fully understand the pressures and issues that members are under, those who represent leave constituencies and those who represent remain constituencies. Labour is in the almost unique position of having MPs representing constituencies in both directions, and very strongly in both directions.’

The government is to allow the Commons five days to debate the bill triggering article 50, it said on Thursday, prompting some MPs to complain this was insufficient time to scrutinise the legislation.

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