Marsha de Cordova, the Labour MP for Battersea, has resigned from Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet today after serving as Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary since the new leader took up his post in April last year.
The Battersea MP tweeted: “It has been an immense privilege to serve as the Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary for the past 17 months. It therefore comes with much sadness that I am resigning with immediate effect.
“Having only been elected in 2017 for the historically marginal constituency of Battersea, I would like to focus more of my time and efforts on the people of Battersea. I will continue to support Keir Starmer from the backbenches.”
Starmer commented: “I would like to thank Marsha de Cordova for her service and in particular her work highlighting the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on Black, Asian, minority ethnic and disabled people.
“Marsha has also laid the foundations for a new Race Equality Act that Labour would introduce to tackle the structural inequalities which have existed in our society for too long.”
When de Cordova was appointed to the role, she replaced Dawn Butler who could not continue as Starmer had committed to not keeping anyone who had refused to sign up to the Board of Deputies pledges for leadership candidates.
But de Cordova has also had a strained relationship with the leadership, particularly after she signed a letter along with eight other Black Labour MPs who said they were “disappointed and seriously concerned” by the indefinite delay of the Forde Inquiry.
“Marsha is writing a letter to herself,” one source close to Starmer told LabourList at the time, because de Cordova held the equalities brief and sat on the diversity and inclusion board set up when David Evans became general secretary.
Sources also say there have been tensions over trans rights and to what extent the party should be engaging with groups that are opposed to Keir Starmer’s stance on reforming the Gender Recognition Act and supporting self-identification.
She recently declined to attend an event by LGBT+ Labour and Stonewall being held at Labour conference this year. LabourList understands the party is sending Angela Rayner to represent the frontbench instead.
Sources close to de Cordova have told LabourList that her resignation has “absolutely nothing to do with trans rights”, however.
LabourList understands that a replacement will be confirmed shortly.
Update: The Guardian has reported that shadow equalities minister Charlotte Nichols has also resigned, for personal reasons.