UK Politics

Jeremy Corbyn distances himself from 'hostile' MPs list

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Media captionDavid Cameron quotes a Labour list ranking MPs as hostile or supportive of their leader

A list categorising Labour MPs as supportive or hostile of Jeremy Corbyn did not "originate" from his office, the Labour leader's spokesman has said.

He said the leaked document, set out in The Times, did not reflect Mr Corbyn's views and he had no knowledge of it.

He admitted the list had "caused some problems" after David Cameron raised it during Prime Minister's Questions.

Among those described as hostile to him include London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan and chief whip Rosie Winterton.

The Labour spokesman said Mr Corbyn had a good working relationship with his MPs and there were no lists in his office.

But one Labour MP, John Woodcock, posted an expletive-laden tweet saying Mr Corbyn's list had turned Labour into a laughing stock at PMQs and saying the opposition leader had failed to capitalise on David Cameron's worst week since last year's election victory.

Mr Woodcock deleted the tweet and said he had intended to send a private message to another Twitter user: "I was sharing frustration with a colleague, ineptly."

Image caption Rachel Reeves was among the MPs to criticise the list

The list, details of which were first published in the Times, divided Labour MPs into five groups based on their attitudes to Mr Corbyn: Core Group (19 MPs), Core Group Plus (56), Neutral But Not Hostile (72), Core Group Negative (49) and Hostile Group (36).

Among the 36 MPs deemed to be hostile were Mr Woodcock, former shadow Europe minister Pat McFadden, who was sacked in a reshuffle in January, former shadow minister Rachel Reeves and Margaret Hodge, ex-chair of the public accounts committee.

Ms Reeves said the list - whose provenance is unclear but which the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said had been drawn up in January - was "really disappointing".

"This week all Labour MPs have been in the chamber, trying to hold the prime minister and [George] Osborne to account for these cuts," she told the BBC's Daily Politics.

"We've all been working together on that, and a list like this which categorises us in this sort of childish way, I think it is really disappointing.

"I just wish that the leader's office, if it comes from the leader's office, would concentrate on holding the Conservatives to account, rather than try to divide the Parliamentary Labour Party, which is the only thing that that list does."


How shadow cabinet is classified

Image caption Labour's chief whip Rosie Winterton is among the MPs said to be hostile to Mr Corbyn

Core Group: John McDonnell; Diane Abbott; Jon Trickett

Core Group Plus: Tom Watson; Owen Smith; Lilian Greenwood; Vernon Coaker; Emily Thornberry; Lisa Nandy; Karl Turner; John Cryer

Neutral but not Hostile: Angela Eagle; Heidi Alexander; Andy Burnham; Seema Malhotra; Chris Bryant; John Healey; Nia Griffith; Kate Green

Core Group Negative: Hilary Benn; Maria Eagle; Gloria De Piero; Lucy Powell; Ian Murray; Kerry McCarthy; Jon Ashworth

Negative: Rosie Winterton; Luciana Berger


Asked if he was "hostile" to the party leader, a spokesman for Mr Khan said: "No. Sadiq Khan is his own person and is fighting his own campaign to be mayor of London. Jeremy Corbyn's name is not on the ballot paper."

Another MP listed as hostile, Alison McGovern, tweeted: "Only folks I'm hostile towards is incompetent Tories."

Former leader Ed Miliband is classified as Negative, as are frontbenchers Lucy Powell and Maria Eagle while the Core Group, regarded as most loyal to Mr Corbyn, includes shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Clive Lewis.


Analysis

By BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

This week began with the government seeming to be in mortal danger. The prime minister and the chancellor's motivations had been called into question by one of their own side.

A big hole had been blown in the Budget, one of most fundamental parts of any government's credibility. The anger that has been simmering under the surface in Tory ranks for months blasted into the open, with insults being traded publicly and privately.

But as MPs hurtle towards their Easter holidays, Number 10 might be breathing a sigh of relief.

Read more from Laura


Shadow Europe minister Pat Glass told the BBC the list had caused "much hilarity" among Labour MPs but she said that if the document did exist, then "we do need to ask some questions" about levels of trust in the party.

She told Radio 4's World at One it had "given David Cameron a shield" at PMQs - during which Mr Corbyn had tried to pin the PM down on Iain Duncan Smith's resignation and the government's U-turn on disability benefit cuts.

After reading out details of the list, to laughter from all sides of the House, Mr Cameron said "and I thought I had problems".

In response, Mr Corbyn urged the prime minister "to leave behind the theatre and return to reality", claiming that few Conservatives knew what it felt like to have to make ends meet.

Later on Wednesday, Mr Cameron told a meeting of Conservative MPs that it had been "a tough week" for the party and that amidst all the media furore he would prefer "more time to think".

The BBC's political correspondent Iain Watson said the issue of Europe cropped up less than might have been expected at the meeting of the 1922 committee, with the PM urging his MPs to emphasise who had granted the referendum on EU membership.

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