The shadow cabinet has been urged to condemn the “bullying” of a Labour MP who called for the whip to be removed from Chris Williamson, the MP suspended for saying Labour had been “too apologetic” on antisemitism.
Deputy leader Tom Watson challenged the shadow cabinet to condemn the “reprehensible” behaviour of the Constituency Labour Party in Lewisham West and Penge, after reports emerged of a no-confidence motion in Labour MP Ellie Reeves.
Days earlier, Reeves – who is 22 weeks pregnant – was one of 121 Labour MPs and peers to sign a statement criticising the party’s National Executive Committee for deciding to end Williamson’s suspension, albeit with a reprimand.
Many had wanted Israel critic Williamson to be expelled, but the case was not referred to the National Constitutional Committee, which alone has the power to expel members. After a two-day uproar, Williamson’s suspension was reinstated.
Watson reacted angrily on Wednesday morning after reports on Tuesday that the Lewisham West and Penge CLP chair John Clark had received a request for a no-confidence in Reeves, who has represented the constituency for two years.
A small group of members are trying to bully another pregnant MP out of the Party. This reprehensible behaviour cannot be tolerated. We will not accept bullying and threats in our ranks. The entire shadow cabinet will want to publicly condemn this too. https://t.co/7imry32iOP
— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) July 3, 2019
Young Labour chair Miriam Mirwitch, who is Jewish, said MPs who are pregnant or on maternity leave “should be automatically reselected… It’s wrong when bosses sack workers who are pregnant or on maternity leave. The same applies to MPs”.
Watson tweeted: “A small group of members are trying to bully another pregnant MP out of the party. This reprehensible behaviour cannot be tolerated. We will not accept bullying and threats in our ranks. The entire shadow cabinet will want to publicly condemn this too.”
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, described Reeves as “an excellent MP,” adding: “Ludicrous no-confidence motion should be binned.”
The Guardian quoted a Labour party source as saying: “No motion has been formally moved or tabled. And in any case, motions of no-confidence have no formal standing and do not result in trigger ballots. Any MP who is on parental leave will not undergo reselection processes until they return from leave.”