Labour Party in the thick of it: MP stuck in the muds of Glastonbury misses debut as defence secretary

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn refuses to resign in the face of a seemingly untenable position as a flood of more than 40 MPs have tendered their resignation. Photo / AP
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn refuses to resign in the face of a seemingly untenable position as a flood of more than 40 MPs have tendered their resignation. Photo / AP

Clive Lewis missed his first outing as shadow defence secretary today as he was still at Glastonbury.

The Norwich South MP was named in the post by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at 8.25am today as part of a rushed list of replacements as a party coup unfolded. But Mr Lewis was still in Somerset at the Glastonbury festival. Today's Commons sitting began with defence questions at 2.30pm but Mr Lewis had not returned in time.

His absence sparked loud jeers from the SNP and Conservative Party benches, with one MP interrupting Michael Fallon offering his congratulations to the MP by shouting mockingly "When he is back from Glastonbury".

Emily Thornberry, Labour's outgoing defence chief who has been promoted to Shadow Foreign Secretary following a flood of resignations from Jeremy Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet, had to step in to ask the questions.

She faced loud jeers and shouts from other MPs as she took to the Despatch Box for the first Commons sitting since Britain voted to leave the European Union for what she described as "my last Defence Questions before I take up my new role". Congratulating his opposite number on her promotion, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon poked fun at her successor's absence.

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn refuses to resign in the face of a seemingly untenable position as a flood of more than 40 MPs have tendered their resignation. Photo / AP
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn refuses to resign in the face of a seemingly untenable position as a flood of more than 40 MPs have tendered their resignation. Photo / AP

He sparked laughter among the Commons when he said: "I'm grateful to the honourable lady for her generous remarks and I congratulate her on her move and we will welcome the new Shadow Defence Secretary - I think he is awol on his first parade - but we will welcome him and pay tribute to his service in uniform."

And alluding to the crisis in the Labour Party's ranks, Mr Fallon added: "He will be, I note, the fourth Shadow Defence Secretary in under two years but I hope he lasts."

Amid the continued chaos in Labour's ranks, Mr Corbyn shocked his already horrified MPs today by accusing them of "factional" infighting as he faced an extraordinary 41 resignations. The beleaguered Labour leader was met with a stony silence as he rose to reply to David Cameron's Commons statement on the shock Brexit result of the EU referendum this afternoon.

And the dozens of MPs who made up the shadow cabinet and front bench shook their heads as Mr Corbyn launched a defiant attack on them for trying to remove him from office. Mr Corbyn has vowed he will not resign under any circumstances and the leaders' office was desperately trying to sign up enough MPs to run a shadow government.

Angela Eagle, the former shadow business secretary, earlier made a tearful appeal to Mr Corbyn to accept the reality of his situation and stand aside for the good of the party while Tom Watson, the deputy leader, has told the leader he is sure to face a leadership challenge after losing MPs' confidence.

So far, 20 members of the full shadow cabinet have now resigned, with two peers effectively going on strike in support. They have been joined by 21 other more junior spokesmen and women who also quit.

But a defiant Labour leader has vowed to fight on and sources in Mr Corbyn's team told MailOnline more new appointments would be made.

- Daily Mail

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