UK Labour members choosing to expel their MPs should be “very careful what they wish for” and warned of party splits, adding that Labour would face the "aftermath for a very long time", Parliamentary Labour Party chairman John Cryer said on Sunday.
Mr Cryer made the comments on the BBC Radio Four’s Westminster Hour programme, where he said that deselecting people on a widespread scale would “lead to the Labour party turning in on itself” and that doing so would make “the argument about deselections, not about winning power and getting into government”.
He added that there were people that thought deselecting MPs was “a marvellous thing” and should be done on a “widespread basis”.
Labour MP Ellie Reeves, Mr Cryer’s wife, also accused party members calling for her deselection of being “beneath contempt” after signing a statement criticising a decision to let Derby North MP Chris Williamson back into the party.
Mr Cryer said that to deselect "a woman who’s five months pregnant, who’s a relatively new MP and has clearly worked really hard – I think it’s beneath contempt."
— Kevin Schofield (@PolhomeEditor) July 7, 2019
Mr Cryer also said that he had clearly stated to UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that “there’s got to be tolerance at the top of the party” and accused the shadow PM of having people around him “who take a less tolerant point of view”.
Mr Cryer added that whether a candidate is elected, party members must “have a tolerance for people with different views” and that “debate and disagreement and dissent” was the driving force behind Labour. “And if that’s no longer the case then it’s not the Labour Party”.
“If it is the case that people are going to be driven out on the basis of differences of opinion then it’s not going to be the Labour party that I’ve always known,” he added.
Rifts amongst Labour have opened after it was found that non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) were used against former members who helped create a BBC panorama documentary on alleged antisemitism in the party. The documentary, produced by longstanding reporter John Ware, was deeply critical of Mr Corbyn and his advisors, who were accused of blocking disciplinary action against alleged antisemitic activity. Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson later tweeted that using lawyers to silence staffers was “not the Labour way”. Labour general secretary Jennie Formby wrote in late June to confirm that Labour was pushing for a general election and that NEC officers had agreed on guidelines for reselecting sitting MPs, as well as request MPs to confirm whether they would remain candidates should snap elections take place.