Having served in the role since 2011, Streatham MP Umunna will return to the backbenches so that he is not a “thorn in the side” of Labour.
When previous Labour leader Ed Miliband first announced he was stepping down from the role after the 2015 general election, Umunna declared his desire to fill the role – but then withdrew from the contest after three days, citing the level of scrutiny that came from being a candidate.
In a personal statement, Umunna revealed he had had a “good discussion” with Corbyn, leading the two to mutually agree that he move to the backbenches.
“Whilst there is much on which Jeremy and I agree, there are a number of key points of difference on policy which I believe it would be dishonest to deny exist. If Jeremy’s clear victory yesterday demonstrated anything, it was a desire for politicians to be true to what they believe – I want to abide by this,” he said.
“Also, Jeremy should be free to appoint a shadow cabinet committed to implementing the policies on which he campaigned in the contest – I clearly had some differences in view on how we build a more equal, democratic, free and fair society.”
Of the differences Umunna and Corbyn share, especially the European referendum, Umunna declared he would “find it difficult” to abide by the collective responsibility that comes with serving in the shadow cabinet.
Umunna went on to say: “In particular, it is my view that we should support the UK remaining a member of the EU, notwithstanding the outcome of any renegotiation by the prime minister, and I cannot envisage any circumstances where I would be campaigning alongside those who would argue for us to leave – Jeremy has made it clear to me that he does not wholeheartedly share this view.”
The 36 year-old politician, who has been profiled at length by Real Business, cited new Labour deputy leader Tom Watson as someone who has demonstrated the ability to make a “substantial contribution to the national debate” whilst not being in the shadow cabinet.
New business secretary Eagle, who ran against Watson in the election for deputy leader, was previously exchequer secretary under Gordon Brown and shadow chief secretary under Ed Miliband.
She was also famously the MP who was told by prime minister David Cameron to “calm down, dear” during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Eagle has been MP for Wallasey in Merseyside since 1992 and became part of the first set of twins to sit in the House of Commons when her sister Maria was elected in 1997.
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