Clive Lewis, the shadow Business Secretary has resigned from the shadow Cabinet. He has said that he couldn’t vote for an unamended Article 50 Bill, as the Labour front bench were being whipped to do, and so has quit Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Cabinet.
The question now becomes, does Lewis run for the leadership? He is now the bookmakers’ favourite (Ladbrokes has him at 5/1) and he’d be a far stronger candidate than Owen Smith.
He was one of Corbyn’s original backers in 2015 and has strong left-wing credentials yet he demonstrated pragmatism on Trident and the nuclear deterrent. His resignation will give him more appeal among the hard-core pro-European wing of the party, who you would normally expect to want a more Blairite candidate. He also offers Labour the chance to make history and elect the first British party leader from a visible ethnic minority. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that Corbyn’s decision not to oppose Brexit has cost him some support among the more youthful part of his left-wing base.
That said, Lewis’ resignation statement states that he will ‘continue to support our party and our leader from the backbenches.’
Diane Abbott will not be joining Lewis in resigning from the shadow Cabinet, though. She has ended up standing by her old political ally Jeremy Corbyn, and voted with him for the third reading of the bill.