Catherine McKinnell resigns from Labour cabinet amid ‘internal conflict’

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament
Shadow Attorney General Catherine McKinnell announced her resignation from her cabinet post yesterday, as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faces further criticism regarding his frontbench reshuffle.

The MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne North said her decision to quit was partially due to path in which Labour was taking and the ‘internal conflict’ within the party.

Writing in her resignation letter, she said, “…as events have unfolded over recent weeks, my concerns about the direction and internal conflict within the Labour Party have only grown, and I fear this is taking us down an increasingly negative path. I feel that I would like to channel my energy constructively, into making positive changes for my constituents.”

McKinnell is the latest in a long line of resignations within the Labour Party, but is the first to quit since Corbyn’s recent shake up. She will be replaced by Karl Turner, the MP for Kingston upon Hull East. Turner was previously shadow solicitor general.

Corbyn’s reshuffle comes as an attempt to heal the fractures within the party since his appointment as leader. Corbyn fired shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher and shadow Europe minister Pat McFadden, while shadow ministers Jonathan Reynolds, Stephen Doughty and Kevan Jones have all resigned in support of McFadden. Of the reshuffle Corbyn has said that it has made Labour “stronger, more diverse and more coherent.”

McKinnell goes on to also suggest that being able to speak in Parliament outside of her legal jurisdiction played a factor in her resignation. She said, “…the second [reason] is the reality of being a Shadow Cabinet member. Whilst this is of course a huge honour and privilege, it is perhaps not generally understood that this precludes an MP from speaking up in Parliament on issues outside their brief. Whilst I have been able to use my position to raise concerns about issues such as corporate criminal liability, serious economic crime, prosecution rates, legal aid and access to justice. I have found it increasingly difficult not to be able to speak up in the Commons about other matters that are of huge importance to my constituents in Newcastle North.”

She also cites a duty of care to her youngest child, whom she had twelve months ago. She says, “the logistics of managing family life in Newcastle with my work down in Westminster have inevitably become more of a challenge.”

McKinnell has been the MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne North since 2010 and has held many Shadow Cabinet roles, such as Shadow Solicitor General and Shadow Children’s Minister under the then-Labour leader, Ed Miliband.

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