Momentum will not push for deselection of Corbynsceptic MPs, insists chairman

24th January, 2018 9:01 am

Momentum will not campaign to deselect “anyone, anywhere”, its chairman has said following mounting fears of claims of a “hitlist” of centre-left MPs.

Jon Lansman said the Corbynista group would not try to oust backbenchers who have been critical of Jeremy Corbyn and insisted that reports up to 50 MPs would be targeted had “no factual basis”.

The veteran Bennite activist spoke out in his first interview since winning election to Labour’s ruling national executive committee, which met yesterday.

“Momentum nationally is not going to campaign to deselect any MP and we will stick by that,” he told The Independent.

“We have made it clear that we are not going to campaign to deselect anyone, at all, anywhere”.

While Lansman said there would be no nationally-backed campaign to remove MPs – which has been cited as an increasing concern in the parliamentary Labour Party – he pointed to the fact that there is already capacity for a “trigger ballot” if enough local branches want to prevent someone from standing again.

“No Labour MP that works hard and campaigns and listens to their members has anything to fear from the selection process,” he added.

“I would hope that at least all our MPs hope to perform well and if they don’t aim to perform well, it wouldn’t be surprising if local members took some action. But that’s up to local members.”

A trigger ballot is the vote by which local members decide whether to simply endorse an existing MP as their candidate or move to a full selection process. Corbyn has previously been seen as a supporter of the ballots, following comments in which he called for a “full and open” selection in 2016 – although aides later said he “does not support mandatory reselection of MPs”.

Yesterday Lansman also said that internal debate over a second EU referendum were being used to try to weaken Corbyn. An increasing number of centre-left backbencher have demanded the public given the “final say” on the deal negotiated by the Tories, or said voters have the right to “keep an open mind” but Lansman claimed they had an ulterior motive.

“I think its right not to pre-judge the outcome of the negotiations,” he adds. “I think we have to wait for it. Unfortunately I think that many of those in our party who are trying to pre-judge the outcome are people who are doing it who have a different agenda – an agenda of undermining Jeremy.”

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