South Yorkshire MP rules herself out serving on Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench

Angela Smith MP
Angela Smith MP

A South Yorkshire MP has ruled herself out of serving in the shadow cabinet under new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn was announced as the party’s new leader earlier today after a landslide victory.

Shawdow food and farming minister Angela Smith, who is MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said she cannot serve on the front bench when she has such ‘fundamental differences with the leader on key issues’.

She said: “I congratulate Jeremy Corbyn on his decisive win today and welcome him as the new leader of our party.

“There is a massive task before us. There are only a handful of seats where the Tory majority is below 3,000 and there are parts of the UK where Labour has very little representation in the Commons. Scotland, for instance, and the South West of England.

“Jeremy needs first and foremost to unite the party after a fiercely contested leadership campaign and a shocking election defeat. He can’t do that alone, however, and it is incumbent on all of us to play our part in rebuilding Labour, making it a party capable of winning the confidence of the country and a majority of seats in a General Election.

“There are many ways, however, of making a contribution to this task. For my part, the depth of the difference between the views of Jeremy and I on key issues makes it very difficult for me to continue as a member of the front bench. I believe in retaining the UK’s membership of NATO, for instance, and I will campaign for our country to stay within the European Union.

“My decision is not one that has been made lightly. I enjoy my role as shadow Food and Farming Minister and my rural affairs brief is one which I consider to be critical to the future success of the party; Labour cannot win a future General Election without reaching out to those parts of England which were not excited by what Ed Miliband had to offer.

“I cannot, however, continue in this role when I have such fundamental differences with the leader on key issues relating to defence and international relations.

“To serve on the front bench in such circumstances would be dishonest, serving nobody’s interests. I also believe that at this current time I can best serve the party I love by making whatever contribution I can from the back benches.

“There is much to do and I wish Jeremy all the best in the task that lies ahead for him. For my part, I will work as hard as I can for my constituents and to advocate the Labour values which I know are vital to the future prosperity of this great country of ours.”

Mr Corbyn was elected as Labour leader to succeed Ed Miliband on a landslide, gaining 59.5 per cent of the vote.