Quaker MPs fired from front bench

Ruth Cadbury and Catherine West have lost their positions as Labour shadow ministers

Quaker MPs Catherine West, who will deliver this year’s Swarthmore Lecture, and Ruth Cadbury have lost their positions as Labour shadow ministers.

The two MPs voted in favour of an amendment to the queen’s speech, moved by their Labour colleague Chuka Umunna, calling for the UK to remain within the single market after Brexit.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn had instructed Labour MPs to abstain as the proposal went against party policy, but fifty MPs rebelled.

In a statement, Ruth Cadbury said that she had voted against triggering Article 50 to start the Brexit negotiations, and that she had promised in the general election to work for a Brexit settlement ‘that secured jobs, rights and environmental protections’.

She added: ‘Therefore I had no doubt that I had to support the amendment moved by Labour colleagues with cross-party support… The amendment ruled out withdrawing from the EU without a deal, sought a parliamentary vote on the final negotiations and proposed remaining in the customs union and single market. Only then can we protect jobs, trade and certainty for business, as well as protecting the rights of EU citizens, with reciprocal rights for UK citizens.’

She said that as ‘a point of principle’ she felt bound to honour the commitment she had made to voters.

‘I was aware that, as I was breaking the whip, I could not retain my front bench role. I have hugely valued working as part of Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench team under shadow housing secretary, John Healey.’

Catherine West tweeted: ‘At this point in the EU-UK negotiations, I believe all options, [including] remaining in single market [and the] customs union should remain on the table. I have enjoyed serving in the shadow [foreign and commonwealth office] team since September 2015 and I will continue to focus much of my work on promoting human rights worldwide.’

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