EXCL Rebecca Long-Bailey accused of lying over claim she worked through the night after colleague quit

Posted On: 
29th January 2020

Rebecca Long-Bailey has been accused of “trading in lies” after claiming she was forced to work through the night when a Labour frontbencher dramatically quit.

Rebecca Long-Bailey is the MP for Salford and Eccles.
Credit: 
PA Images

The leadership contender said she had been left in the lurch by Robert Marris after he unexpectedly stood down from Labour’s Treasury team in 2016.

Mr Marris resigned during a Commons committee hearing into the Finance Bill implementing the then Government’s Budget plans.

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In a speech to Labour activists on Saturday night, Ms Long-Bailey said his decision meant she had to work until the early hours of the next morning before the committee resumed at 9am.

She said: "I went in and I spoke to John [McDonnell] and I started ranting and I think my exact words were, ‘if they think they are going to get rid of us then they’re going to have to carry me out kicking and screaming’. And I sat in that office until about 3am going through all the clauses.

"Richard Burgon was dragged in at one point. Angela Rayner was dragged in and she got us a Domino’s pizza because we were starving. And we got through the clauses and we went to the Finance Bill committee the next day fully prepared, and I was pretty good if I’m honest."

Footage of the speech - in which Ms Long-Bailey also accused Mr Marris of wiping files from a shared hard drive - has been widely shared online by her supporters.

But PoliticsHome has learned that the committee was actually adjourned for five days following Mr Marris’s resignation - directly contradicting Ms Long-Bailey’s version of events.

According to Hansard, the official record of parliamentary business, the Finance Bill committee rose at 3.24pm on 30 June, 2016, and was "adjourned till Tuesday 5 July at twenty-five minutes past Nine o’clock".

A Labour source said: “Rebecca tells this story at every CLP or union meeting she attends, and this week, it's been promoted by Momentum, John McDonnell, Novara Media, and ‎dozens of her other supporters as evidence of her leadership skills and how good she'd be in a crisis - every one of them repeating her claim that she had to work all night to ride to the rescue the next morning.

"That is demonstrably a total lie, just like her claim to have been born with the sound of the Stretford End roaring in the background. If we want to regain the trust of the British people, trading in lies during the leadership campaign is not a great start."

A spokesman for Ms Long-Bailey confirmed her version of events was wrong, but insisted she had had to work round the clock for days in the wake of Mr Marris’s departure.

He said: “Rebecca recalls her and her staff having to work all through the weekend including during the night until 3am each day until the next sitting day, which commenced on Tuesday at 9am.

"When the committee concluded the following Thursday, David Gauke commented: 'In the circumstances—I speak from experience, having held the Opposition Front Bencher role on Finance Bills—she has acted with great thoroughness and determination, and I congratulate her on providing scrutiny in slightly difficult circumstances, particularly as I understand she did not inherit any notes'."