Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West defends rebel vote

PUBLISHED: 14:22 30 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:22 30 June 2017

MP Catherine West has defended voting against her party.

MP Catherine West has defended voting against her party.


Catherine West has defended her decision to back a rebel backbench motion to keep Britain in the EU after being sacked from Labour’s frontbench.

Ms West was sacked as shadow Foreign Office minister.Ms West was sacked as shadow Foreign Office minister.

As reported in the Ham&High, Jeremy Corbyn sacked Ms West from her role as shadow Foreign Office Minister yesterday after she voted against the Labour party in favour of an amendment to the Queen’s speech calling for Britain to remain in the single market and customs union.

Her fellow frontbenchers – shadow housing ministers Andy Slaughter and Ruth Cadbury – also lost their positions yesterday after backing the amendment tabled by pro-Remain MP Chuka Umunna.

Speaking to the Ham&High the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green said: “This was closest to how my constituents wanted me to vote.

“It’s important parliamentarians don’t break the bonds they have with their constituents.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Catherine West on the campaign trail earlier this year.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Catherine West on the campaign trail earlier this year.

Mr Ummuna’s Queen’s Speech amendment went further than the position outlined in Labour’s manifesto.

Streatham MP Mr Ummuna wanted to keep the country in the EU if Theresa May’s government failed to negotiate a deal and outline proposals to stay in the customs union and single market.

Labour had tabled its own amendment calling for a deal to give the UK the same benefits as the single market and the customs union.

“I voted for the Labour amendment and Chukka Ummuna’s although the Labour amendment didn’t mention membership of the single market and customs union,” Ms West said.

In total 49 Labour MPs defied the whip to vote in favour of the amendment, which was defeated by 322 votes to 101, a majority of 221.

The rebel Labour MPs were joined by 34 SNP MPs, 12 Liberal Democrats, the four Plaid Cymru MPs, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Independent MP Lady Hermon.

Ms West was appointed to the frontbench following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour Party leader in 2015.

“I stepped into the breach during a different time. I feel now that the party is in a good position. I’m not needed quite as much which means Labour is doing better.

“I don’t see it as a personal thing. Nobody has a god-given right to have a job in shadow government.

“When you are looking to be the prime minister you need to have a system in place to keep MPs following party lines.

“If you don’t vote in the way the party feels, you shouldn’t be on the front bench,” she said before describing how Labour whips were in touch with her within an hour of the vote.

In last year’s referendum 50-year-old Ms West championed remaining within the EU, a position backed by 82 per cent of her constituents– the highest in the country.

“Many of my constituents are finding it hard to come to terms with the idea of a hard Brexit that doesn’t reflect our best interests.

“In a negotiation it’s important to leave as much on the table.

“Membership of the customs union and single market should be as much on the table as possible.

“The message kept coming back that people are really, really worried about what will happen to their jobs, work opportunities and the risks to the economy.

“I wanted to clearly reflect people’s views and my constituents’ strong vote last summer.”

Asked if the amendment vote had backfired and left the way clear for a harder Brexit, Ms West said it was important to express different levels of support on Europe.

“There are people who feel very strongly that we should not even be leaving. With a hundred MPs voting for that amendment it was showing support for a pro-European stance, trying to keep things as similar as we possibly can to what we have now.

“That position is really important. That’s what people feel, particularly in London.”

On her future, Ms West confirmed her work with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on UK and EU relations would continue “to make sure bridges are not burnt”.

And speaking about her shadow frontbench experience she added: “I really enjoyed my role. I’m sure there will be somebody to replace me and I’m looking forward to supporting that person with the handover.”

The keen swimmer added she was looking forward to forming an All-Party Parliamentary Group to promote the sport as well as continuing with her surgeries and constituency diary.

Related articles

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories


Police chased a Volkswagen Polo across three boroughs on Monday morning after it crashed into a patrol car at low speed.

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Crouch End inventor is crowdfunding to launch an innovative and wearable air pollution monitor inspired by his own worries as a new dad.

Friday, December 7, 2018

British Transport Police are looking to speak to a man about three women being racially abused on an underground train.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Carlton Tavern could be reopened in April, nine months after the planning inspectorate told them to rebuild it.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Coffee isn’t the only thing Deniz Korkmaz is brewing up in Kentish Town.

Friday, December 7, 2018

We chat to five local designers and artists who tell us about the one thing they must have or do at home that puts them in the Christmas mood

Friday, December 7, 2018

An application to redevelop a house in Swiss Cottage, owned by an off-shore company linked to an address in the Panama Papers and billionaire property mogul Sol Zakay, has been approved.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Two sisters from Muswell Hill were lucky enough to meet the Queen last Wednesday after playing a pivotal role in publication of a book about an adoption pioneer.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now