Labour's New Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis Misses First Commons Date As He's At Glastonbury

Corbyn critic John Woodcock said he should take over

27/06/2016 14:32 | Updated 27 June 2016
Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Clive Lewis taking part in the annual pancake day race for charity

The Labour Party crisis has taken a comic turn as Jeremy Corbyn's newly-appointment Defence Secretary missed his House of Commons debut as he was dashing back from Glastonbury Festival.

Clive Lewis was named as the replacement for promoted Emily Thornberry amid the turmoil of the 'Labour coup' against the party leader in the aftermath of 'Brexit'.

But the Norwich South MP was still on a field in Somerset when he received the news - and was expected to lead Labour at Defence Questions in Parliament at 2.30pm.

In the event, Thornberry, now Shadow Foreign Secretary, took charge.

Parliament TV
Emily Thornberry in her final Commons appearance in the role

In response to her first question, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon quipped: "We will welcome the new Shadow Defence Secretary. I think he was AWOL on his first parade. He is the fourth Shadow Defence Secretary I have faced and I hope he will last."

In a possibly tongue-in-cheek gesture, John Woodcock, the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) defence committee and arch-Corbyn critic, wrote to Corbyn stating it was his "intention" to step in - citing parliamentary protocol.

"I should therefore speak from he despatch box in the event that the new shadow defence secretary you have appointed today does not make it back from Glastonbury in time to hold the government to account."  

Woodcock has clashed with Corbyn over their views on Trident in particular.

Yesterday, as attempts to destabilise Corbyn began, his deputy Tom Watson was making his way back from the festival too.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson. At Glastonbury

Watson discussed Glastonbury with Corbyn during crisis talks this morning, when he also warned a leadership challenge was imminent.

At Glastonbury, Watson posted a video to SnapChat of himself enjoying a Silent Disco at around 4am, several hours after Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn was sacked, triggering the crisis. Some 20 frontbenchers have now quit.

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