LONDON — Jeremy Corbyn has suffered a second resignation from Labour’s frontbench after ordering his MPs to vote for Brexit.
The Labour leader has imposed a three-line whip instructing his MPs to vote next week to trigger Article 50 — the process by which Britain leaves the EU.
Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens told the Guardian on Friday that she felt forced to step down because her support for the EU was a “clear issue of principle and conscience.”
“I expect this to be the most important vote I will ever cast as an MP and for me it is a clear issue of principle and conscience,” she said.
“When I vote I will be representing my constituents, a great many of whom, including a great many Labour party members and voters, have strongly urged me to vote in this way. That is why, in shadow cabinet, I argued against the imposition of a three-line whip.”
Stevens’ departure follows the resignation of the shadow early years minister Tulip Siddiq yesterday. Both Siddiq and Stevens represent constituencies which overwhelmingly voted Remain.
Several other Labour frontbenchers are also considering their position. Incredibly, this includes two MPs who are charged with ensuring their colleagues vote for the measure.
Business Insider revealed on Thursday that Labour whip Thangam Debbonaire plans to defy her own whip when the Brexit bill goes before Parliament next week.
Debbonaire told BI that she would “deal with the consequences [of defying the whip] as they happen.”
She will be joined by her fellow whip Jeff Smith, who told the Manchester Evening News that “My constituents voted strongly for remain and I think it’s important to represent their view.”
Any frontbencher who defies a three line whip would ordinarily have to resign from the front bench.
However, it remains unclear whether either MP will be forced to stand down. Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott told the Today Programme on Friday that the leadership were “sympathetic” to MPs who represented heavily Remain-voting areas. She added that it was a “matter for the Chief Whip” whether they would be expected to resign.
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