UK Politics

Labour 'needs a period of calm', Lord Falconer says

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Media captionLord Falconer on Pat McFadden sacking: "I certainly wouldn't have fired him"

The Labour Party needs a "period of calm" in the wake of resignations during Jeremy Corbyn's cabinet reshuffle, Lord Falconer has said.

The shadow justice secretary said the cabinet changes had been "an amazing distraction" from the country's issues.

But he said he "certainly wouldn't have fired" former Europe spokesman Pat McFadden, who Mr Corbyn sacked.

Meanwhile, Alison McGovern has resigned from a party policy review group saying she could not work with the leadership.

It comes days after three shadow ministers quit in protest at the reshuffle.

'Amazing distraction'

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Lord Falconer insisted the Labour Party remains a "broad church" but to be effective that broad church must not be "at war with itself".

"The country needs an effective opposition," he told the BBC.

"The floods, the junior doctors about to go on strike for the first time in 40 years, what's going on with Britain's support for the justice system in Saudi Arabia, these are issues that we should be focusing on. They are just examples.

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Media captionAlison McGovern said she had been "backed into a corner"

"We as a party, in the wake of the reshuffle, which is an amazing distraction from all of these issues, need to be coming together and doing the work to provide an alternative to this government, which is a very bad government."

When Lord Falconer was asked if he would have made the same decision as Mr Corbyn in the sacking of Mr McFadden from the shadow cabinet, he said: "The decision as to who is in and who is out of the shadow front bench team is entirely a matter for the leader."

But when pushed on the issue again, Lord Falconer said: "I certainly wouldn't have fired him."

Mr McFadden was given marching orders from his role as shadow Europe spokesman for apparent disloyalty.

'Realign fire'

Another shadow cabinet member, education spokeswoman Lucy Powell, told the BBC Two's Daily Politics: "We need to draw a line under last week's events and move on."

Labour should "realign our fire not on each other... but on this government," Ms Powell said.

She said the resignation of Ms McGovern - MP for Wirral South and chairman of Blairite pressure group Progress - from a child poverty policy review was "a shame because I think she has a huge amount to offer".

One of the key policy issues dividing Labour is whether to renew Trident, the UK's nuclear deterrent.

Mr Corbyn is opposed to nuclear weapons, and replaced his pro-Trident defence spokeswoman Maria Eagle with Emily Thornberry, who thinks it should be scrapped, in the reshuffle.

However, Ms Powell said she would be "very surprised" if Labour came out in favour of unilateral disarmament following its defence review.

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