Jeremy Corbyn used to be a proudly independent-minded backbencher, but as leader he is proving unafraid to crack the whip – with those who defy him paying the price. Even his supporters have had to toe the line on Brexit, I noted back in January. Last night, scores of Labour MPs challenged his authority by backing an amendment to the Queen’s Speech tabled by fellow MP Chuka Umunna that would have bound Britain to stay in the European Single Market and the Customs Union, despite being whipped to abstain on it.
Punishment followed swiftly, with three shadow ministers dismissed. Deputy leader Tom Watson blamed Mr Umunna for trying to “divide” his fellow MPs with the vote. “We’re still buzzing, we still want to hold the government to account, we’ll get over it and move on,” he said.
Did Labour’s diehard Remainers deserve this? Tom Harris suggests so, blaming their tolerance – and appeasement – of Jeremy Corbyn as leader. “Hours after the election result, Chuka Umunna indicated he would serve after all, on Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench. The rebellion was over, Corbyn had won, was the message Umunna was relaying. And with such capitulation comes consequences,” he writes. “Last night’s votes, the party whip to abstain on Umunna’s amendment, the sacking of front benchers, Labour’s (marginally) less ambiguous approach to Brexit – these are the consequences of Corbyn’s triumph.”
Source: for MORE