Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has written an open letter to local party members pledging her full support to the new leader of the Labour Party following her resignation from frontline politics.
As reported by The Dispatch, Ms Reeves resigned as shadow works and pensions secretary within hours of left wing Jeremy Corbyn’s election as new Labour leader on Saturday, tweeting: ‘When I return from maternity leave in January I will serve my constituents in Leeds West, party & new leadership from backbenches’.
The timing suggested Ms Reeves – who reportedly backed Andy Burnham as leader – was unhappy with the result.
But in a letter explaining her resignation to Leeds West Labour members, Ms Reeves appeared to soften her stance on the new leadership team and publically pledged her ‘full support’ to Corbyn and his new deputy Tom Watson. She wrote:
“… Both have clear mandates and a positive vision for transforming Britain and making ours a fairer and more equal society. I will give Jeremy, Tom and the party my full support in the months and years ahead.
“For me personally, I believe I can best do this from the backbenches when I return from maternity leave in January – campaigning on issues that I care passionately about.
“Jeremy needs a shadow cabinet in place now and to be able to appoint a team who can take forward his vision. Being in the shadow cabinet is a huge commitment – 24/7 and you have to put your heart and soul in to it and be willing to stand up at the despatch box or go on the media at any point to represent the party.”
Ms Reeves said that she loved her job as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury and as shadow work and pensions secretary but added:
“… I want to focus on my family, constituency work, community campaigning and holding the Tories to account on economic and social policy from the backbenches.
“I hope you will understand and accept my decision – it was a very hard one for me to make but I believe that it is the right one for me, my family and my constituents right now.
“Like you, I love our party and I will support our new leader and always do everything I can to help us win locally and nationally. I look forward to campaigning with you especially as we approach important council elections next May.”
Read Ms Reeves’ letter in full here.
Veteran left-winger Corbyn got almost 60% of more than 400,000 votes cast, trouncing his rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.