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Diane Abbott appointed shadow health secretary

Hackney MP Diane Abbott has been appointed shadow health secretary after Heidi Alexander quit her post amid the political fallout from the EU referendum vote.

Ms Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and a longtime ally of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, has been a shadow junior health minister, and is currently serving as  shadow secretary for international development.

Posting a picture of her resignation letter on Twitter yesterday, Ms Alexander said: 'It is with a heavy heart that I have this morning resigned from the Shadow Cabinet.'

In the letter to Mr Corbyn, she expressed that she believes the Labour Party needs new leadership.

She said: 'As much as I respect you as a man of principle, I do not believe you have the capacity to shape the answers our country is demanding and I believe that if we are to form the next Government, a change of leadership is essential.

The BMA's Junior Doctors Committee chair Dr Johann Malawana reacted to the announcement, posting on Twitter: 'Am so sad to read this. [Heidi Alexander] has been such an incredible advocate for the NHS & its staff. Sad day.'

Ms Alexander is one of 12 members of the shadow cabinet to resign, including four shadow ministers, following Mr Corbyn's sacking of shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn.

Mr Corbyn now faces a vote of no confidence of Labour MPs but has said he will not give up his post.

He said in a statement that he 'regretted' there had been resignations from his shadow cabinet but that he would not 'betray the trust of' the 'hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members and supporters' who voted him on last year 'with an overwhelming mandate for a different kind of politics'.

He added: 'Those who want to change Labour’s leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate.'

Former health secretary Andy Burnham, a member of the Labour shadow cabinet, gave his support to Mr Corbyn.

He said: 'At an uncertain time like this for our country, I cannot see how it makes sense for the Opposition to plunge itself into a civil war.

'I have never taken part in a coup against any Leader of the Labour Party and I am not going to start now.

'It is for our members to decide who leads our party and ten months ago they gave Jeremy Corbyn a resounding mandate. I respect that and them.'

Meanwhile, Ms Abbott said: 'Criticising Corbyn's leadership after denying him cooperation is undemocratic, cynical and dishonest.'

During the pensions dispute in 2012, Ms Abbott told Pulse that there would be ‘public support' for a day of action, and that Labour would have ‘a lot of sympathy for the BMA'.

However, Mr Burnham later rolled back from Ms Abbott's comments, and urged doctors to ‘pull back from any form of action that damages patient care, including disruption to non-urgent care.'

Readers' comments (8)

  • Fortunately, VERY fortunately, it will be short lived. When Corbyn goes, she is finished

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  • Peter Swinyard

    The Family Doctor Association deeply regrets the departure of Heidi Alexander, who was a committed and passionate Shadow Secretary of State for Health and who had acquired quickly a great command of a difficult brief. We will continue to aspire to working together with her replacement in the interest of GPs and General Practice and in the furtherance of continuity of care.

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  • Vinci Ho

    In quantum physics , there is theory called Heisenberg's uncertainty principle .
    The philosophy is basically, if you know your position , you don't really know your momentum (especially in a storm like this) and if you know your momentum , you actually have no idea where you are......

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  • The world really is coming to an end.

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  • errr, Vinci, I think you will find Momentum and their location , standing outside Parliament in their hundreds waving "Support Jezza" placards.

    Every time I watch a lefty meltdown, I have to go back to the Life Of Brian skit about the "SPLITTERS"

    All politicians are, to the first degree, self-serving opportunist hypocrites, however, it is on the left that these qualities are most craven.

    Will Ms Abbott have the same attitude to Private medicine as she did to Private education (ie slag it with fibre of her body, then send her own son to a very expensive Private school)?

    I don't think Corbyn will go, or be force out. 24 resign, that still leaves about 200 in his class to choose from. When will the wider public realise that no particular skillset (other than the above-mentioned self serving opportunist hypocrisy) is needed for any particular ministry portfolio.

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  • Can we send her a map showing there is a world outside Hackney?

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  • this is who I want sparring with Jeremy Hunt!
    good luck Diane, she is a tough debater.
    we wish you luck

    - anonymous salaried!

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  • Peter is right .it needs qualities Diane had not shown me

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