Andy McDonald has resigned as Labour’s shadow employment rights and protections secretary in a shock move during the party’s annual conference.
The ally of Jeremy Corbyn told leader Keir Starmer the party is “more divided than ever” and accused him of not honouring “our commitment to socialist policies”.
The MP, who also served under Corbyn as well, said the leader’s office had instructed him to argue against a national minimum wage of £15 per hour and against statutory sick pay at the living wage.
McDonald said in a letter: “I joined your frontbench team on the basis of the pledges that you made in the leadership campaign to bring about unity within the party and maintain our commitment to socialist policies.
“After eighteen months of your leadership, our movement is more divided than ever and the pledges that you made to the membership are not being honoured. This is just the latest of many.”
The resignation threatens to overshadow Starmer’s attempts to use his first in-person party conference as leader to define what a Labour government would look like.
And it came as the party sought to get the event in Brighton back on track following internal rows over rules to elect future leaders, a change that passed despite opposition from the left.
Starmer also faced criticism from the party’s left after ruling out nationalising energy giants, apparently watering down a key pledge from his leadership campaign.
In response to McDonald’s resignation, Starmer said: “I want to thank Andy for his service in the shadow cabinet.
“Labour’s comprehensive New Deal for Working People shows the scale of our ambition and where our priorities lie. My focus and that of the whole party is on winning the next general election..”