By Thomas L Blair 11 February 2017 ©
Clive Lewis, shadow business secretary, gave clear warning. He aimed to honour his commitment to his Remain-voting constituency, even if it meant challenging his boss. He did just that with his fightback letter to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. his close ally on the left of the party.
“When I became the MP for Norwich South I promised my constituents I would be “Norwich’s voice in Westminster, not Westminster’s voice in Norwich”. I therefore cannot, in all good conscience, vote for something that ultimately goes against the wishes and interests of the constituency I have the honour to represent, love and call home.”
Furthermore, “I’m resigning … “because I feel I must vote against the government’s bill as it stands,” Lewis said as he joined around 50 MPs voting against triggering Brexit negotiations in the Commons.
No stranger to world politics of war, and climate change, he spoke out on immigration and nuclear weapons during his campaign. The former BBC political editor and veteran of the Afghanistan war has said it is time to learn from the past and not make the same mistakes over Syria.
A Labour “role model”and Black moderniser, Lewis, like Dawn Butler, defied the party line. Their fellows had argued forcefully that Brexit was disastrous for the nation and hard-pressed communities. Yet, when told to, they backed Article 50; some, no doubt with heavy hearts.
Lewis denies rumours that he plans to be a challenge candidate in a fresh Labour leadership election, particularly because Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to order his MPs to back the bill angered many party activists. “It’s a load of bollocks” he told the Eastern Daily newspaper.
One thing for sure, Lewis and Butler have modeled a new role for Blacks aspiring to high political office. Getting a seat at the Cabinet table, however worthy integration seems, does not mean you have to be a robot.
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