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Exclusive: Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck launches appeal against de-selection

Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck. Credit: ITV News

Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck has appealed against her local party’s move to remove her as its candidate, ITV News has learned.

The MP for South Shields was “triggered" by members of her constituency party earlier this month after seven out of the 10 local branches voted to have an open candidate selection rather than automatically reselect her.

Ms Lewell-Buck has also written to Jeremy Corbyn and contacted his office requesting a meeting to raise her concerns over the trigger ballot process in South Shields, but has received no response.

ITV News understands Ms Lewell-Buck has now lodged an appeal with the national Labour Party over "irregularities" in the way the votes were conducted.

The alleged irregularities include a local councillor filling out the ballot paper of another member, local councillors being present at "trigger" meetings where they were not permitted and harassment of party members.

The fourth branch of South Shields CLP to vote - which saw the threshold met for the MP to be "triggered" - initially returned a tied result before a re-run saw Ms Lewell-Buck lose by one vote.

The complaint, made and received by Labour on Monday, calls for Labour to stop the process of reselection while the latest claims are investigated.

Trigger ballots give local Labour members a choice between automatically reselecting their MP as a candidate for the next general election or “triggering” an open selection process.

A Labour Party source said: “We’re confident the vote was conducted in line with our rules and procedures.

"The trigger has come from the right in the CLP, not the left. Triggers are about democracy and many members wish to hold selections so they can have a say in who represents them.”

Lewell-Buck with then Labour leader Ed Miliband shortly after being newly elected as MP for South Shields. Credit: PA

On Emma Lewell-Buck’s request for a one-on-one meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour source told ITV News: “Jeremy Corbyn does not oversee internal processes so it would not be appropriate for him to be involved.

“Jeremy has met Emma several times previously.”

The party told us a decision to hold a reselection process “is not a deselection” but “a decision to hold a democratic contest” and said members of its Regional Executive Committee who attended the branch meetings “were confident they had been conducted in line with our rules and procedures.”

The party says a CLP Executive Committee was also required to appoint a member from outside the branch to oversee each meeting.

The South Shields MP, who was elected in 2013 when she took over from David Miliband in a by-election, has previously complained to the party about bullying by local councillors.

In 2016, South Shields CLP was suspended for 19 months while allegations of a bullying culture were investigated.

Labour MP Lucy Powell has described the trigger ballot process taking place across the Labour Party as being “misogynistic at its core” and told ITV News “it’s about trying to put a lid on opinionated, outspoken women.”

Labour MP Lucy Powell said 'triggering' is 'misogynistic at its core.' Credit: PA

Four of the six Labour MPs “triggered” since the process began are women.

Labour told us in any seat where a woman MP is “triggered”, the selection would only be open to women candidates.

Black and ethnic minority Labour MPs have also raised concerns they are being targeted by trigger ballots.

A Labour source told us that “under longstanding Party rules, reselection processes have to be held in between general elections” and have been since 2001, apart from the 2017 snap election.

“These are taking place in every Labour-held constituency across the country and in any reselection sitting MPs are automatically on the ballot paper,” they said.