Wearside MP blasts Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for not 'being up to the job' - after backing rival Owen Smith

Sharon Hodgson has offered a damning assessment of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Sharon Hodgson has offered a damning assessment of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
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A Wearside says she quit embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet over fears the party is sliding into 'political irrelevance' under his command.

Washington and Sunderland West MP joined the growing revolt against Mr Corbyn after resigning from her position as Labour's Shadow Minister for Children earlier this month.

Mrs Hodgson has cited Mr Corbyn's 'lacklustre' handling of the EU referendum campaign as a key reason for her loss of confidence in his leadership and insists he isn't 'up for the job'.

The party supremo - who was swept to power last September - now faces a crunch leadership challenge from Owen Smith.

Mrs Hodgson says she felt unable to continue to support the under-fire party leader after the sacking of fellow shadow cabinet member Hilary Benn.

Mrs Hodgson, who has served as an MP for over a decade, says she will now throw her support behind Mr Smith's bid to wrestle control of a party she says is now in 'dire straits'.

In an open letter to party members on her website Mrs Hodgson outlined her reasons for leaving the shadow cabinet.

She wrote: "I did not vote for Jeremy to be Leader last year, but I chose to support him by accepting the position of Shadow Minister for Children, an area that is close to my heart. Here I had two key aims: to support the Labour Party and its Leader and to oppose this damaging Tory Government as effectively possible. I didn’t need to take a position on Jeremy’s frontbench, and could, like others chose to last September, have politely declined in order to work to represent constituents and our Party from the backbenches. Instead, I chose to step up and support Jeremy.

"Unfortunately, I could not continue supporting Jeremy after the events that followed Hilary Benn’s sacking."

"Labour is bigger than any one person, and is indeed bigger than all of us. When our party is teetering on the edge of political irrelevance, we all have a duty to act quickly to show that we are a government in waiting. "

Mrs Hodgson says a change is needed at the top as Mr Corbyn's leadership abilities have been found wanting at a time when needed most - and blasted him for being 'nowhere to be seen' in the wake of Britain's dramatic exit from the EU.

She added; "We need leadership that ensures our electability, and respectfully, Jeremy is not offering that leadership.

"For example, during the European Union Referendum, Jeremy’s campaigning was lacklustre and he was, at best, ambivalent towards one of the most important decisions our country has made in a generation.

"Leaders must lead from the front and make our case to the country, but Jeremy failed to do so. In the morning after the vote, when the people needed reassurances and the markets needed confidence, Jeremy, as a national leader, should have been doing the media rounds, speaking to the many people who had stayed up all night watching the results. But Jeremy was nowhere to be seen.

"Jeremy should have used the EU campaign to show his potential to become our next Labour Prime Minister. With the most important, high-level negotiations our country will ever see, Labour needs to have a credible voice at the table, working to get the best Brexit deal for the people we represent and stand up for as Labour Party members. Sadly, Jeremy has shown he isn't up to the job."

Mrs Hodgson fears that many crucial swing voters will 'never' elect a Corbyn-led party.

She continued: "Last summer, we were promised a revitalised and successful Labour Party, improving on the disappointing performance in the 2015 General Election. However, we have seen the opposite.

"To win a General Election, we need to appeal to not only core Labour voters, but the wider electorate. Sadly, my experience on the doorsteps across the country is that crucial swing voters will never vote for a Labour Government led by Jeremy, and I have experienced this on the doorstep in Washington and Sunderland West also.

"Labour is in dire straits right now, and we must heal our party, uniting both the membership and the Parliamentary Party. I hope you can understand why I made the difficult decision to resign and can show your support for Owen Smith to be the next Leader of the Labour Party".