Brighton MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle has quit the Labour frontbench today, citing a “campaign by the right-wing media” against him.
His resignation statement, posted on social media channels tonight, reads: “This afternoon I spoke to Keir and asked to step back from the front bench duties as minister for air quality and the natural environment but remain a Labour and Co-operative MP for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven.
“It is with regret I leave the shadow ministry, but owing to a campaign by the right-wing media my position has become untenable.
“This has unleashed a torrent of online hate and daily calls of harassment to my office, which has exposed those who work for me to abuse that would not be acceptable in any workplace.
“It is my job to get political flack, but it is not the job of caseworkers, researchers and assistants to be attacked. It has also led to hounding and stress, from which I need a few weeks to support my team and myself to collectively recover.
“I am here to represent all my constituents and I am grateful to all those who voted for me, and to the people who believe Labour can make our country a fair, better, happier place for all of us. I shall continue to work hard for you.”
Russell-Moyle added: “I shall return to the backbenches for the time being to support Keir in defending and furthering the manifesto we stood on and to achieve a Labour government.“
A Labour spokesperson commented: “Lloyd spoke to Keir Starmer this afternoon and informed Keir of his decision to step back from front bench duties as shadow minister for the natural environment.
“Keir thanked Lloyd for his hard work on the frontbench and wished him well in his plans for the coming months to focus on housing and youth services.”
The shadow environment minister had recently been criticised by the party-affiliated Jewish Labour Movement, which said he had “in his short time in parliament, managed to attract constant controversy in relation to antisemitism”.
Russell-Moyle issued an apology after comments he made about Zionism from before he became an MP in 2017 emerged earlier this month.
In a social media post, he had suggested that Zionism was a “dangerous nationalist idea” and “not progressive in its very nature“.
JLM criticised the Labour MP for his “very public defence of Chris Williamson” and for “offering his support to numerous members suspended or under investigation for engaging in antisemitism“.
Russell-Moyle also attracted criticism last month after he accused author JK Rowling of “using her own sexual assault as justification for discriminating against [trans people]”.
Asked on Wednesday about the possibility of Russell-Moyle being sacked, Starmer’s spokesperson said: “Lloyd made this apology at the weekend and has promised to reach out to the Jewish Labour Movement, and that’s the right thing to do.”
In response to the resignation announcement this evening, a JLM executive member said Russell-Moyle had not reached out to the organisation.
Joshua Garfield tweeted: “We never heard from him. It appears he opted to step down instead of reaching out to us.”
Luke Pollard, Shadow Environment Secretary, told LabourList in early June: “I’m really pleased that I’ve got Lloyd in the team… Lloyd is a force of nature.”