Labour pension shadow resigns over Brexit

Alex Cunningham MP has resigned his position as Labour’s shadow pensions minister after he defied the whip to vote against his party’s policy on Brexit.

Cunningham had been in the role for 14 months before resigning. A statement from his constituency office says that he stepped down following a clash with his party over membership of the customs union. Cunningam said he needed to reflect the views of the large number of people involved in the chemical businesses in his constituency who see membership of the customs union as essential. However, Cunningham, who campaigned to remain within the EU, also said that he had to reflect the views of those in his constituency, who voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU in the referendum.

No replacement has yet been announced.

Cunningham’s statement says: “In recent months, I have spoken with representatives from many companies in my constituency and beyond and received lobbying from many of them through other means.  They are as one about the importance of the Government delivering the kind of access and regulatory regime they need to continue their businesses effectively in Europe.

“They also spoke of the threat to investment and the future of many of the jobs they provide in my constituency and across Teesside. I voted as I did as I believed I was leaving the door open for any deal with the EU to possibly include the membership of the Customs Union – something I felt was in the best interests of industry and jobs in my Stockton North constituency.

“After my constituents voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU I saw it as my responsibility to support them in that decision and ensure I worked for the best possible outcome for them in terms of jobs and rights.  That I will continue to do.”