News | Published May 05 2020

Labour general secretary resigns

Jennie Formby has resigned as the general secretary of the Labour Party after two years in post.

Formby’s tenure as general secretary had been blighted by the antisemitism controversy and internal discord over the direction in which former leader Jeremy Corbyn was taking the party.

In one of his first moves as Labour's new leader, Holborn & St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer had asked for Formby's resignation, which has now been finalised.

Sir Keir credited Formby for leading the party with both “commitment and energy through a period of political upheaval”.

Meanwhile, deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Jennie has been a great servant of our movement for many years and blazed a trail as one of our highest achieving women.”

The Times has called Formby’s departure a ‘boost’ for Sir Keir's aspirations as leader, given that she had been a staunch ally of Corbyn throughout the latter's leadership.

Issuing an email to party staff, Formby, who became general secretary in April 2018, said that her stepping down was agreed with Sir Keir upon his election in April.

She said: “It has been a huge privilege to be general secretary of the largest political party in Europe for the last two years, but with the election of a new leadership team, it is the right time to step down.”

The party’s ruling National Executive Committee will now begin the process of selecting her successor. Candidates to replace Formby include the GMB union director of external relations, Lisa Johnson, and Unite union’s political director Anneliese Midgley.

In the background, the Labour Party remains under investigation from the Equality and Human Rights Commission for its handling of antisemitism. The party is also carrying out is own internal inquiry.

Following confirmation of Formby's departure, Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge tweeted that it presented “another opportunity to draw a line under the past four years" and that the party could focus on "rebuilding public trust" and "finally eradicate antisemitism" within its ranks.

The Jewish Labour Movement said in a statement that it will "be prepared to reengage with [Labour] party HQ once new management is in place and it has demonstrated the necessary contrition and willingness to change."

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
May 05 2020

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