In the News

Three junior members of Keir Starmer's shadow front bench sacked for voting against the Overseas Operations Bill

Duncan Hall

25th September 2020

Three Labour MPs were "stood down" from their front bench roles this week, as explained in this article. There's a degree of confusion and misinformation about events online so here's a quick explainer.

This was the Second Reading of the bill - a vote on the broad principle. The left-wing Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs (featuring Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, John McDonnell et al.) submitted a "reasoned amendment" to oppose the bill in its entirety. The Labour front bench position was to whip members to abstain on the vote, despite being very critical of the bill. (The bill was discussed in a previous blog here). 18 Labour MPs broke the whip to vote against the bill, including the three front benchers. Oppositions sometimes abstain on bills at second reading because they do not oppose the principle aim of the proposed legislation (in this case to deal with vexatious legal claims against UK military personnel) but do disagree with the detail, and aim to propose amendments to the detail at the committee and report stages. It has been suggested in various places online (Twitter, etc!) that opposition parties cannot propose amendments if they have voted against at second reading, but this is untrue (unless of course they happen to defeat the bill at second reading!)

Duncan Hall

Duncan Hall is Subject Lead for Politics and Sociology for tutor2u. Duncan is an experienced social science and humanities teacher, writer and senior examiner. He has taught Politics and Sociology A Level for many years and has a PhD in Social History.

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