McDonnell rules out intervention to save Leeds MP from deselection

UNDER THREAT: Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn.
UNDER THREAT: Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn.
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SHADOW CHANCELLOR John McDonnell has insisted Labour will not interfere to safeguard the future of Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn.

Mr McDonnell said the former shadow foreign secretary has a “fantastic role” to play in Labour’s future but ruled out any attempt to prevent Mr Benn’s deselection.

The YEP reported earlier this month that backers of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had seized control of the Leeds Central constituency Labour party.

Mr Benn has become a hate figure for a section of Corbyn supporters who blame him for triggering the sequence of events which led to the Labour leader facing a challenge over the summer.

Mr Corbyn saw off the challenge from Pontypridd MP Owen Smith and, despite public calls from the Labour leader for the party to unite, some of his supporters have revealed a desire for revenge against senior figures who failed to back him.

There are fears among allies of Mr Benn, the Leeds Central MP since 1999, that the election of supporters of Mr Corbyn to committee roles in his local party could be the first step in an attempt to unseat him.

Asked about the Leeds Central MP, Mr McDonnell told BBC Radio Five Live’s Pienaar’s Politics: “Labour leadership doesn’t involve itself in local selections to the local party.

“That’s democracy.

“I think Hilary Benn’s got a fantastic role to play.

“He’s a friend of mine and I hope he continues to play a role in our party at whatever level. But we can’t interfere in local democracy in our party. We’re a democratic party.”