Mike Amesbury has quit Keir Starmer’s frontbench team, telling the Labour leader that he would be resigning his post as shadow local government minister so that he has more time to devote to his constituents.
In a letter to Starmer this afternoon, Amesbury highlighted that he secured his seat in the 2017 by a slim majority and held it in “very challenging circumstances” in 2019 and that he had promised that he would “put my constituents first”.
“I believe that if I am to continue to do so, I am not able to give the role of shadow local government minister the energy it demands and deserves,” he added.
The Labour MP also said he wanted to “stand shoulder to shoulder with all whose only ask is a fair deal for them and their families”. Starmer instructed his frontbenchers to stay away from picket lines during the RMT strike last week.
He tweeted during the industrial action that “”workers do not withdraw their labour lightly”, adding: “They are fighting to save jobs in this cost of living crisis.”
Amesbury, who served as shadow minister for local government since 2021 and was previously shadow minister for employment, told the Labour leader that he intends to “provide this support and voice from the backbenches”.
Starmer faced criticism last week after the instruction to Labour frontbenchers leaked. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham accused the Labour leader of “hiding” and called on him to “decide whose side you are on”.
Amesbury argued this afternoon, however, that he was proud of what the party is achieving and said he hoped that Starmer would become Prime Minister, with “a purpose” and “a bold offer”.
“Our recent success in Wakefield building upon good local election results in England, Scotland and Wales puts us well and truly back on the pitch. I will do all I can to work with the Labour movement to secure a Labour victory and put you in 10 Downing Street,” he wrote.
“This must be a victory with a purpose, a mission to drive out inequality in Britain with a bold offer that gives hope, powers up people and our communities.”
He added: “I secured my marginal seat from the Tories in 2017 and retained it in very challenging circumstances in 2019. At both elections I promised that I would put my constituents first. I believe that if I am to continue to do so, I am not able to give the role of shadow local government minister the energy it demands and deserves.”
Reacting to the resignation on Twitter this afternoon, Shadow Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Lisa Nandy said it had been an “absolute pleasure” working with Amesbury, adding: “Your constituents are lucky to have you.”
Today I resigned as Shadow Local Government Minister to ensure I can continue to put my constituents first as their MP.
Thank you to @lisanandy and everyone in the team, as well as local government colleagues who have been a pleasure to work with. pic.twitter.com/BG8EjnITy1
— Mike Amesbury MP (@MikeAmesburyMP) June 30, 2022