Jeremy Corbyn Undermined Me And Is Not A Team Player: Lilian Greenwood Reveals The Truth Of Life In The Shadow Cabinet

Former Shadow Transport Secretary holds nothing back in extraordinary speech.
Gareth Fuller/PA Archive

A Labour MP who quit the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the EU referendum has lifted the lid on working for Jeremy Corbyn in a brutal speech.

Lilian Greenwood, who resigned as Shadow Transport Secretary last month, revealed how longstanding policy announcements were scuppered, decisions were made without discussion and concerns were ignored by Corbyn and his team.

In a speech to her Nottingham South constituency activists last week which she published online today, Greenwood admitted that even though she had not backed Corbyn for leader last year she “tried to make it work” for the nine months she served under him.

She added that it was “impossible” to do her job because Corbyn is “not a team player let alone a team leader.”

Greenwood originally made the speech explaining her decision to resign last week, but today published it in full on her website.

She revealed:

  • A long-planned campaign day to flag up the increase in rail fares was completely overshadowed by Corbyn, who decided to announce a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle on the same day: “I respect completely Jeremy’s right to reshuffle his top team. But why then? It was unnecessary and it was incompetent.”
  • Despite agreement with Greenwood and Corbyn’s director of policy that the party would support HS2, the Labour leader gave an interview in which he suggested support for the project could be dropped: “I felt totally undermined on a really difficult issue.”
  • Corbyn publicly took a Eurosceptic position on an EU rail package, despite his policy staff agreeing a different position: “It undermined me, my staff and his staff. I wondered why I was bothering to put in the hard work.”
  • Corbyn’s decision to call for an immediate triggering of Article 50 after the EU referendum was taken without any discussion with the Shadow Cabinet: “Jeremy made a major announcement on the Party’s position without waiting to discuss it with the Shadow Cabinet, without even consulting the leader of our MEPs in Europe.”

Describing her own decision to resign three days after the referendum, Greenwood said: “Hilary Benn, who I’d been with on the campaign bus with in Derby and Peterborough only 3 days earlier, had been sacked.

“And Heidi Alexander, one of my closest friends in the Shadow Cabinet, one of the best and most talented and loyal colleagues I know, had resigned.

“So I rang Brian, my agent, and my adviser, Laurence, to tell them. I wrote my resignation letter and I rang Jeremy to explain. And I texted asking him to call me. And I rang Katy Clark in his office and asked her to ask him to ring me.

“After an hour or so he did ring me. And we had an amicable discussion and I explained that I had lost confidence in him.

“He didn’t even ask me why, or what was wrong, or how he could fix it.

“I wasn’t part of any coup, I didn’t plan it, I didn’t co-ordinate the timing of my resignation with anyone else.

“I just knew that I could not go on.

“Things were, and are, falling apart.”

Greenwood was one of 13 MPs to resign from Corbyn’s Shadow Government on the Sunday after the EU referendum, and many more also quit later that week.

The Labour leader is now facing a leadership challenge, with Angela Eagle and Owen Smith both throwing their hats into the ring to replace him.

A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn said: “Clearly we disagree with Lilian’s assessment of the Jeremy’s performance in the Remain campaign. Two-thirds of Labour supporters voted Remain because Jeremy travelled the length and the breadth of the country making that case.”