Daniel Zeichner resigns from Shadow Cabinet
The Cambridge MP has stepped down over the European Single Market
Just three weeks after being re-elected as the MP for Cambridge, with a significantly increased majority of 12,661, Zeichner has made a major stand in favour of a ‘soft Brexit’.
He has resigned from his post as Shadow Transport Minister in order to vote in favour of Chuka Umunna’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech, which supports the UK remaining a member of the Single Market after Brexit. The official Labour Party line is that Britain’s exit from the European Union would involve the ending of the free movement of labour and a departure from the Single Market.
Umunna proposed this amendment on the basis of economic uncertainty predicted in the instance of a hard Brexit, involving a withdrawal from the Single Market. He insisted, “whatever the level of access negotiated, working people across Britain will be worse off and revenue to the Exchequer will plummet.” The amendment, however, failed to pass – 322 voted against, whilst 101 voted in favour. Of the latter bloc, 49 were Labour MPs, including Andy Slaughter, Ruth Cadbury and Catherine West, members of the Shadow Cabinet who were subsequently sacked.
Labour frontbenchers were apparently warned they would lose jobs if they voted with the amendment
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) June 29, 2017
Zeichner stated: “It is with great regret that I announce my resignation as Shadow Transport Minister. It has been an honour to serve and make a real difference especially in bus regulation. However my position on Europe has always been clear. I am a passionate pro-European and a straight-forward politician.”
“I promised the people of Cambridge I would stick to my principles and I would do right by our city – that means voting with my conscience and doing all I can to oppose the Tories’ extreme Brexit which would, in my opinion, damage our economy, our security and our society as a whole. I will continue to make this case, and the case for the many progressive, radical Labour policies in our manifesto to transform our society, from the back benches.”
This move comes as a particular blow, given Zeichner’s previous record of party loyalty. The Cambridge MP has held this office since September 2015, and stayed in place throughout several mass resignations in protest against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in January and June 2016. However, his decision cannot come as a particular surprise, given Zeichner’s pro-Europeanism throughout the course of his campaign in the General Election 2017. This is in keeping with the broader feelings of the constituency, with 73.8% of the Cambridge City Council district voting to remain in the EU Referendum 2016.
But, for now, it seems to be full steam ahead with hard Brexit.