Sunderland City Council leader and removed deputy speak after 'internal Labour Party politics’ sees changes at the top

‘Internal Labour Party politics’ was behind the decision to remove Sunderland City Council's deputy leader from his post, the top man at the authority has said.

Friday, 28th August 2020, 4:25 pm
Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Miller (left) and removed deputy leader Michael Mordey (right)

Following speculation over the move, city chiefs have broken their silence, but continue to remain tight-lipped.

“The decision to remove Michael as deputy leader was my decision,” said council leader Graeme Miller.

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“It is internal Labour Party politics, I will not be discussing that with anyone and that is where it will stay.”

Despite having been removed from the council’s deputy leadership, which in 2019/20 entitled him to a special responsibility allowance worth more than £25,000, Cllr Mordey remains deputy leader of Sunderland’s Labour Group.

The opportunity to challenge him for the party political role in a vote had been due to go before Labour councillors in May, but was postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which also saw local elections cancelled.

Cllr Miller declined to commit to whether or not he would endorse an alternative candidate for the deputy role when the time came.

Cllr Mordey was replaced as deputy council by serving cabinet secretary Paul Stewart.

Cllr Mordey’s previous responsibilities have been split among the remaining members of the ruling cabinet.

There has been speculation on social media as to the reason behind Cllr Miller’s decision to remove his deputy.

But the leader insisted any behind-the-scenes debates would not impact the smooth running of the city.

He added: “Residents of the city shouldn’t be concerned at all, we’re running the council well, people can see we’re bringing in positive change for the city.

“Politics is a business which comes and goes, the Labour Party group is 50-odd councillors and there can and always will be disagreements within that group, but it has no impact on how we run the city.”

When approached for comment, Cllr Michael Mordey said: “It’s a matter for internal party politics at the moment and it is still in process.”

Asked if he would continue as deputy partyleader up May 2021 and beyond, he added: “We will have to see what events happen in the next couple of weeks.”

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