Chuka Umunna: Jeremy Corbyn's Nato and Nationalisation Views Could See Me Quit Labour's Front-Bench

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna
BEN STANSALL via Getty Images

Chuka Umunna today set out his red lines for serving in a Jeremy Corbyn Shadow Cabinet as he flagged up “grave concerns” over leaving Nato and renationalisation.

The Shadow Business Secretary, who withdrew from the leadership contest after less than a week, indicated he could step back from a front line role in the party as he too has “points of principle”.

Mr Umunna also warned against “flashmob democracy” after a surge of more than 350,000 people signed up to the Labour Party after the election to vote in the leadership contest.

Mr Corbyn is seen as favourite to win the Labour leadership contest, but in recent weeks has come under strong attack from his rivals over both his economic and foreign affairs policies.

Speaking this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Ummuna said: "One of the things that’s very important to me is that we maintain our pro-European stance and that we are very clear that whatever the outcome of the renegotiation and the EU referendum campaign the Labour party is clear it would stay in. It is not clear what position Jeremy would adopt in that situation.

"I have grave concerns about increasing National Insurance for middle income families by seven per cent, I’m concerned about us withdrawing from Nato and I don’t think you can go around nationalising things without compensation when, you know, we often invest in these things in our pension funds.”

When asked if he would serve in Mr Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, Mr Umunna replied: "It would completely depend on the programme you’re being asked to sign up to. I’ve just explained to you some of the misgivings I have and some of the points of principle that I have. He has many points of principle, I have them too. It completely depends but I think ultimately we’re all keen to contribute and as I said, Shadow Cabinet is not the only way to do that.”

Labour’s membership has swelled from 187,000 before the General Election to 292,973 as of last week. In addition to full members, a further 112,799 people have signed up as ‘registered supporters’ and 148,182 are ‘affiliated supporters’.

The surge in interest has been attributed to the popularity of Mr Corbyn, who is offering an alternative economic plan based around so-called People’s Quantitative Easing – printing money to fund infrastructure developments.

There have been fears among Labour that supporters of rival parties have signed up in order to influence the election result, leading to 400 members or supporters of the Conservatives and 1,900 members or supporters of the Green Party being banned.

Mr Umunna said the increase in supporters was “a cause for celebration.”

He added: "But the real important thing now is we can’t have a kind of flashmob democracy where everyone comes in for the contest and then they flee. We want to make sure that we harness the energy that the new joiners bring both in terms of helping them get on the doorstep to sell the progressive messages we need to get across to the public but also helping them organise in their communities.

"These people have great links to local groups and organisation which will help us revive our community organising tradition."

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