The news that a Labour frontbencher has resigned over a Brexit issue is not strange, even strong supporters of the leadership have left the cabinet. However, Laura Smith choosing to resign to vote with the government, not against, caused some confusion; made worse by the fact she supported remaining in the EU.
The reason is simple for her defiance, careerism. She’s done some research and to keep her seat should there be another General Election she needs to show blind support for the Leave vote. Smith has a majority of 48 votes in a constituency that voted 60% Leave and with a possibility of a General Election within 18 months she clearly has decided keeping her seat is a priority. Not voting with her own views or respecting party unity.
The Labour Party faced serious problems in the vote yesterday with 90 MPs defying the whip but despite this, the amendment to keep the UK in the EEA was defeated by a majority of 201 votes.
However, Smith resigning from the frontbench is the move that has riled up members. Not only has it caused a PR problem for Labour that was completely unnecessary it is an example of the jellyfish politics that Labour members detest.
She didn’t vote against it last time it was in the house, yet has this time. Simply in the hope, it will shift her favourability.
Smith claims that it is about respecting her constituents claiming “After much reflection, I have resigned as Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office to vote against remaining in the EEA. I will always put my constituents in Crewe & Nantwich first”, but it was completely unnecessary. Her vote made no difference to the result. With Labour whipping their MPs to abstain the government were always going to defeat the amendment.
Many would argue that respecting the will of voters is a good thing for democracy and I would agree. However, I would rather my representative in Parliament do what they think is right, not find a demographic sweet spot on issues. Also worth remembering that she won her seat on the Labour ticket, as a known remainer. Her constituency voted for Brexit, but common sense Brexit. Not the government’s Brexit
Her resignation was a stunt, that she hopes will help her, at her party’s expense.