Labour Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer faces further crisis at the helm following the resignation of a shadow cabinet minister during the party conference over a rift bordering on minimum wage policy.
Shadow secretary of state for employment right, Andy McDonald, on Monday said he could no longer work for the party and that his position on Sir Keir’s front bench was “untenable.”
SurgeZirc UK understands that McDonald, in his resignation letter said Sir Keir’s office had “instructed” him “to go into a meeting to argue against a national minimum wage of £15 an hour and against statutory sick pay at the living wage”.
According to him, this was “something I could not do”. McDonald said the Labour Party was “more divided than ever” under Sir Keir’s leadership.
McDonald’s resignation further compounds Keir Starmer’s woes as party leader. The former MP has faced scathing whiplash following his proposal to overhaul the party’s election rulebook in favour of the electoral college system.
Starmer began the conference staring down defeat on a move to end the one member, one vote for Labour leadership elections, but narrowly passed alternative changes to Labour rules that will make it harder for MPs with less support from their colleagues to get on the ballot.
While negotiating with trade unions over the rule overhaul Sir Keir had been excoriated by union leaders for refusing to support a £15 minimum wage.
Labour party says it is angling for at least a £10 minimum wage, which reflects a £1 increase from the existing £8.91, even though the rate may have already risen closer to that level by the next general election.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Labour Conference in Brighton, McDonald said: “It was a compositing meeting yesterday when the membership and the unions were promoting [a £15 minimum wage] and to be asked to defend the position and not support what the party and unions wanted to do is something I couldn’t in all conscience sustain.”
“This is what we should be doing. Is it really unreasonable to expect people going to work, our key workers not to have the level of pay and to be able to sustain their position?”