Starmer hit by resignations after rebellion among Labour MPs over ‘spy cops’ law

Sir Keir Starmer faced a series of resignations as he suffered a major rebellion over the so-called "spy cops" law.

The Labour leader ordered his MPs to abstain on the third reading of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Bill.

But 34 decided to oppose the legislation, including former leader Jeremy Corbyn, ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell and former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.

Margaret Greenwood tendered her resignation as shadow schools minister and Dan Carden quit his post as a shadow Treasury minister so they could vote against the Bill.

Liverpool Walton MP Mr Carden said he voted against the Bill as a "matter of conscience", saying the legislation sets "dangerous new precedents" on the rule of law and civil liberties.

Wirral West MP Ms Greenwood echoed those sentiments, while Navendu Mishra, Labour MP for Stockport, also resigned from his role as a parliamentary aide to the party's deputy leader Angela Rayner ahead of the vote.

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DUDLEY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: L-R) Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, addresses the audience during the last Labour Party Leadership hustings at Dudley Town Hall on March 08, 2020 in Dudley, England. Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy are vying to replace Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is stepping down following his party's loss in the December 2019 general election. The new leader and deputy will be announced on 4 April, 2020. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
NEWPORT, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 19: Sir Keir Starmer poses for a portrait during a Labour leadership rally at the Neon on February 19, 2020 in Newport, Wales. Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy are vying to replace Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who offered to step down following his party's loss in the December 2019 general election. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
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Britain's opposition Labour Party Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer speaks to members of the media as he leaves the BBC headquarters after appearing on The Andrew Marr Show in London, Britain January 5, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Britain's opposition Labour Party Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer speaks to members of the media as he leaves the BBC headquarters after appearing on The Andrew Marr Show in London, Britain January 5, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour Party's Shadow Secretary of State for Departing the European Union Keir Starmer leave after a meeting with European Union's Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels, Belgium March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
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File photo dated 05/09/06 of human rights advisors Keir Starmer (left) and Jane Gordon, with the Northern Ireland Policing Board annual human rights report 2006, at the Dunadry Hotel in Co Antrim. Sir Keir Starmer has been elected as the next leader of the Labour Party, beating rivals Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy after the first round of voting.
File photo dated 25/09/07 of human rights lawyers Keir Starmer QC and Jane Gordon at the Belfast launch of a major report monitoring the Police Service of Northern Ireland's compliance with the Human Rights Act. Sir Keir Starmer has been elected as the next leader of the Labour Party, beating rivals Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy after the first round of voting.
File photo dated 23/09/08 of Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions, at the publishing of his final guidelines on prosecutions for assisted suicide at the CPS headquarters at Ludgate Hill in London. Sir Keir Starmer has been elected as the next leader of the Labour Party, beating rivals Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy after the first round of voting.
File photo dated 29/04/19 of shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer (left) and shadow chancellor John McDonnell leaving the Cabinet Office in Westminster, London. Sir Keir Starmer has been elected as the next leader of the Labour Party, beating rivals Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy after the first round of voting.
Labour leadership candidates (left to right) Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy during the Labour leadership hustings event hosted by the Co-operative Party, at the Business Design Centre, London.
File photo dated 15/02/20 (left to right) Labour leadership candidates Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Sir Keir Starmer after a Labour leadership hustings.
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Keir Starmer during the Labour leadership hustings at the ACC Liverpool. Picture date: Saturday January 18, 2020. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
DUDLEY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: L-R) Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, addresses the audience during the last Labour Party Leadership hustings at Dudley Town Hall on March 08, 2020 in Dudley, England. Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy are vying to replace Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is stepping down following his party's loss in the December 2019 general election. The new leader and deputy will be announced on 4 April, 2020. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
DUDLEY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, takes part in the last Labour Party Leadership hustings at Dudley Town Hall on March 08, 2020 in Dudley, England. Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy are vying to replace Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is stepping down following his party's loss in the December 2019 general election. The new leader and deputy will be announced on 4 April, 2020. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
DUDLEY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan reacts as she takes part in the last Labour Party Leadership hustings at Dudley Town Hall on March 08, 2020 in Dudley, England. Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy are vying to replace Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is stepping down following his party's loss in the December 2019 general election. The new leader and deputy will be announced on 4 April, 2020. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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Mr Mishra said he believed voting against the Bill "sends a clearer message about the strength of our concerns".

The Bill would grant wide-ranging legal rights to undercover agents to commit crimes in the course of their work.

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".

He told the Commons: "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 Carden, in his letter to Sir Keir, said: "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."

He said he fully supported the Labour leader, adding: "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."

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "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."

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