Inside the struggle to oust pro-Brexit Labour MP Kate Hoey

Jeff Spicer/Getty ImagesKate Hoey
  • Pro-Brexit Labour MP Kate Hoey lost a vote of confidence in her local party in Vauxhall, London.
  • However, a vote to deselect Hoey would be “tricky” according to sources, as despite her support for Brexit she is seen as an effective constituency representative.
  • Allies of Hoey have branded the process as a “waste of time” and that it “opens the door further deselections”.
  • Ex-MP and Corbyn staffer Katy Clark is expected to run in the event of a deselection, as is Momentum National Co-ordinator Laura Parker.

LONDON – On Thursday Labour party members in the constituency of seasoned Labour MP Kate Hoey launched a bid to oust her, citing her support of Brexit legislation which shored up Theresa May’s position.

The Vauxhall Constituency Labour Party (CLP) passed a no-confidence motion in Hoey, and requested the Labour party’s ruling National Executive Committee to declare her ineligible to stand as a candidate at future elections.

The no-confidence motion passed unanimously and accused Hoey of “colluding with [Nigel] Farage, UKIP and Leave.EU”, “collaborating with the Jacob Rees Mogg-led ERG (European Research Group) and DUP”, and “openly praising Green Party candidates.”

Hoey responded by claiming she was simply blocking a “Brexit in name only” which she believes was neither “in the Labour manifesto” or supported by the 17.4 million Brits who backed Leave in the 2016 referendum.

Hoey presents a dilemma for Labour moderates

Despite Hoey’s unpopularity amongst Labour activists in south London, many are nervous about the unintended consequences of a move to oust her. “It’s a tricky one,” said one figure Vauxhall Labour Party. “It will open up a can of worms, there will be impact elsewhere.” Specifically, they are worried that it could be used to justify deselections on a national scale by party members who want to replace moderate MPs with supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

One moderate Labour source suggested Momentum – the group set up to support Corbyn’s leadership and policies – was happy for Hoey to face deselection as it would be the trigger for a nationwide deselection process.

“Clever tactic!… Laura Parker [Momentum’s National Coordinator] basically called for the deselection of those four MPs who broke the whip on the Customs Union, knowing [pro-EU Labour moderates] wouldn’t rush to defend them – it seems essentially a tactic to legitimise deselection as a process”.

Labour moderates have inadvertently found themselves in a lose-lose situation over the Hoey affair.

If they back a deselection attempt against Hoey, it could legitimise further deselection and likely endanger more Corbyn-sceptic MPs. If they are seen to not be actively involved in the attempts to remove Hoey, they will be portrayed by their opponents as defending her, and face being tied to potentially the least popular Labour MP in the parliamentary party.

Kate HoeyJeff J Mitchell / Getty ImagesKate Hoey

Hoey could be planning to stand down soon

A friend of Hoey told BI that any move to get rid of her would effectively be pointless as she intends to stand down at the next general election anyway.

“By the next election she’d be in her late 70s, I don’t think she was intending on standing anyway. It’s a waste of time that opens the door to further deselections”, they said.

They continued: “She’s said to me she was planning on stepping down by the next election so it’s utterly pointless.”

If Hoey did decide to stand for election again, getting rid of her may not be as easy as many presume. That’s because although she has defied the Labour leadership on numerous Brexit votes, she is seen by some as an excellent constituency MP.

“She’s been able to reply with that for a number of years,” a Labour source who wants to oust Hoey told BI.

A source within Vauxhall Labour party told BI: “A group of people Kate’s helped with casework will turn up just to help her, then never turn up again”.

Katy ClarkYoutubeKaty Clark (right)

The race to succeed Hoey

It remains unclear who Hoey’s successor may be. However, there is no shortage of candidates angling for the seat.

The current favourite is Laura Parker, Momentum’s National Co-ordinator. She is a resident in the seat and is popular amongst left-winging activists. Parker is reportedly well thought of by Corbynites and moderates alike, and would likely be supported by Momentum in a contest.

Other likely candidates would include Christians on the Left Political Communications Officer and Policy Network Board member Stephen Beer, Thought for the Day presenter and Barrister Jasvir Singh, and Centre for Turkey Studies founder and Lambeth councillor Ibrahim Dogus. Former Channel 4 Economics editor and Corbyn supporter Paul Mason was a name touted by some on the left as he lives in the Vauxhall constituency, however speaking exclusively to Business Insider, Mason said: “I categorically rule out running for parliamentary selection in Vauxhall.”

With an all-women shortlist more than likely, prominent women candidates are likely to stand for the selection. Lisa Johnson, a senior GMB official is tipped as a candidate, having pulled out of an anticipated bid to become Labour’s General Secretary in March. Ex-North Ayrshire and Arran MP Katy Clark, who is currently Political Secretary for Corbyn, and a leading figure behind the ongoing Democracy Review is also tipped to be running for the seat as a Vauxhall resident.

Corbynite sources doubt Clark would get shortlisted, however. Clark previously stood for the Rochdale and Leigh parliamentary selections, and after the failure to get a Labour left endorsed candidate selected in the recent Lewisham East by-election, Momentum will likely pressure for a clear pro-Corbyn local candidate, due to the Vauxhall Labour party’s moderate leanings.

The left of Labour is likely to push hard to win the seat, as it has a significant symbolic value to them.

Hoey was initially selected in 1989 after left-wing candidate Martha Osamor was selected by the local Labour party, but her candidacy was vetoed by the National Executive Committee, and she was replaced by Hoey.

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