Diane Abbott gets grief (and get well wishes) from Labour MPs

Written by Sebastian Whale on 2 February 2017 in Diary

John Mann called the shadow home secretary a 'coward', while Chris Leslie stuck a different tone.

According to members of her team, Diane Abbott will be back raring to go in the Commons next week after a migraine forced her to miss a key vote on triggering Article 50 last night.

The shadow home secretary went home after falling ill - two hours before MPs voted on the Government's plans to formally begin the two-year Brexit process.

"Diane had a full day planned but at around 5pm she went to Hackney because of migraines," explained one aide. "We've cancelled her plans for the next two days but expect her to be back in on Monday at the latest."

But one Labour MP is having none of it.

In a furious attack, John Mann suggested Abbott deliberately avoided the vote because her Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency voted to stay in the European Union.

Speaking to BBC News, Mann said that MPs with serious illnesses had turned up to Parliament for the vote, and said it was “quite extraordinary” that Abbott had failed to do.





“We have some very, very ill people who’ve turned up to Parliament to vote yesterday, who are so sick they’ve not been able to carry on their work as MPs. They made it there and they voted, and she gave herself a sick note at 5 o’clock,” he said.

“I think we all know what’s going on here. She bottled the vote, it’s cowardice. People who voted in different ways, one can argue whether they’re right, they’re wrong, but you don’t abstain on the big votes.

“And it’s embarrassing to see that, and I think she ought to be giving an apology to the Labour party for doing so. That is not leadership, that’s cowardice, she’s called it very, very badly.”

Meanwhile, former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie sent a get well message to his colleague...




Another Labour MP emailed his colleagues to say: “Can we organise a PLP collection for flowers? I’ve tried to get colleagues to donate informally, but I’ve only raised 64p and can only think this is because they are too upset and worried to focus on it properly at the moment. I want to get #PrayForDiane trending on Twitter.

"Those not comfortable with a faith-based message could perhaps tweet #ShowDianeWeCare. Is there anything else we should be doing?”

And a Labour source told PoliticsHome how they hoped that Abbott would be able to take part in the final Commons vote on the bill next week.

The source said: “Labour MPs are just willing her to get better. There's no need for her to do anything taxing like going on Question Time or the Sunday Shows this week. We're sure she'll be well enough in time for third reading next Wednesday.”

Abbott was present at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, and also took part in a Westminster Hall debate at around 3pm.

A total of 47 Labour MPs - including 15 frontbenchers - defied their party leader to vote against the Government's Article 50 bill yesterday. You can see a full list of who voted against the bill here.

Three shadow cabinet members and one front bencher resigned after imposed a three-line whip on Labour MPs to back triggering Article 50.

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