Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has been faced with humiliation as the party’s 34 MPs disobediently voted against the new security Bill, which experts say gives security men undue power over the citizens and seven frontbenchers resigned from their positions.
Sir Keir had told the party MPs not to vote on the new law. But to his amaze, 34 MPs violated the order and opposed the legislation, plus, the Labour leader is dealing with quite a number of resignations, with Margaret Greenwood quitting as shadow schools minister and Dan Carden stepping down as a shadow Treasury minister so they could vote against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Bill.
Parliamentary private secretaries Navendu Mishra, Kim Johnson, Mary Foy, Rachel Hopkins and Sarah Owen have all resigned bringing the total number of resignation to seven.
Labour MPs who opposed the new Bill included former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and ex-shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.
The new security Bill is expected to give a wide-range legal right to undercover agents to commit crimes in the course of their work and get away with it.
According to a report, Liverpool Walton MP Mr Carden said he opposed the legislation as a “matter of conscience” while insisting that the Bill sets “dangerous new precedents” on the rule of law and civil liberties.
Mr Mishra said he believed voting against the law “sends a clearer message about the strength of our concerns.”
Closing the committee stage debate for the Opposition, shadow Home Office minister Conor McGinn said rebels in his party do not have a “monopoly on principles”.
“I think they’re wrong but it doesn’t mean I don’t respect the arguments they have put forward. All I would say gently is that those who oppose the Bill in its entirety don’t have the monopoly on principles and nor are they the sole moral arbiters when it comes to forming a view on the measures in the Bill,” Mr McGinn told the Commons.
Mr Carden told Sir Keir in his resignation letter, “We have spoken at length on these matters and I know you have settled on yours and the party’s position from your own experience and with sincerity.
“You will understand that as a Liverpool MP and trade unionist, I share the deep concerns about this legislation from across the labour movement, human rights organisations, and so many who have suffered the abuse of state power, from blacklisted workers to the Hillsborough families and survivors.
“My focus now and in the months ahead will remain on representing my Liverpool Walton constituency and fighting for the people of my city as we face the huge challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.”
However, Home Secretary Priti Patel has slammed Labour for not supporting the legislation.
“Once again, Labour has refused to stand up for those who protect our country and keep us all safe. Their leader may have changed, but Labour still can’t be trusted on national security.”
Finally, MPs approved the Bill at third reading by 313 votes to 98, majority 215. The Bill will now be laid before the House of Lords for further scrutiny.