A number of constituents have contacted me over the last three weeks regarding the Labour leadership.
The situation that both the country and the Party finds itself in, following the result of the EU referendum vote, is an incredibly difficult one. Under a year ago, Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in a democratic vote of members, registered supporters and affiliates and I respect that democratic mandate.
Although I didn’t support Jeremy in last year’s leadership contest, he has a mandate and I have at all times sought to offer constructive support, first as Shadow Minister for Disabled People, and more recently as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
At a very difficult time, I believe Labour should be concentrating on working together to provide an effective Opposition and ensuring that we get the best possible deal for the country in the Brexit negotiations. I have endeavoured to do this to the best of my ability.
Many colleagues have wrestled with their consciences regarding the right thing to do for both the Party and the country. I respect that and it is of considerable concern that many colleagues have received threats, abuse and intimidation of themselves and their staff. I condemn abuse of MPs of any kind. There is no place for this in society or in our politics. The Labour Party is and always has been a broad church and there must be healthy debate in the Party. However, this must not be allowed to descend into abuse, threats, violence and intimidation.
Yesterday Labour’s National Executive Committee had a lengthy meeting, following the receipt by the General Secretary of an admissible challenge to the leadership by Angela Eagle MP. At this meeting, it was agreed that Jeremy Corbyn, as incumbent, would be on the ballot for a forthcoming leadership election and the NEC will set out the timetable tomorrow.
I hope that this election will be held in a comradely spirit, with all members, supporters and affiliates respecting differing views and opinions. I will continue to do what I can to effectively oppose the Government, as your local MP, during these turbulent times.