Clive Lewis publishes resignation letter

Clive Lewis speaking at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership rally at Open in Norwich.

Clive Lewis speaking at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership rally at Open in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Clive Lewis has told Jeremy Corbyn he would be voting against the wishes of his constituency if he had backed Article 50.

The Norwich South MP published his resignation letter on the social media website Twitter as the Labour leader insisted a string of resignations over Brexit were 'not a disaster'.

The Norwich South MP declined interviews yesterday, but used his letter to describe a 'warm and friendly chat' with the leader ahead of his resignation.

But he added: 'When I became the MP for Norwich South I promised my constituents I would be Norwich's voice in Westminster, not Westminster's voice in Norwich. I therefore cannot, in all good conscience, vote for something I believe ultimately goes against the wishes and interests of the constituency I have the honour to represent, love and call home. Our party, the Labour Party, was right to attempt, through Parliament to win the protections the people of this country need.'

Mr Lewis was one of 52 Labour MPs - including 11 junior shadow ministers and three whips - to vote against the Bill, which gives Theresa May the authority to start EU withdrawal negotiations under Article 50 of the EU treaties. A further 13 did not vote.

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Conservatives seized on Labour's turmoil to claim the Opposition was 'hopelessly divided' over Brexit.

But when asked about the rebellion in his party's ranks, Mr Corbyn told BBC Breakfast: 'No, it's not a disaster.'

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The Labour leader also said rumours that he was preparing to quit the party's top job were 'absolute nonsense'.

Mr Corbyn said he had ordered his MPs to walk through the voting lobby with the Government because the party had to carry out the result of the referendum.

The Labour leader insisted his party had not given Prime Minister Theresa May a blank cheque over Brexit.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who last week blamed a migraine for her failure to attend a key vote on the Bill, turned out to have backed the triggering of Article 50.

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