Labour Suspends Unite Leadership Frontrunner over Priti Patel Deportation Tweet

Howard Beckett, Len McCluskey’s deputy and frontrunner in the race to succeed him as Unite General Secretary, had an evening that went from bad to worse last night:

  • Being called to resign after being ordered to pay £1.3 million after a libel case against former MP Anna Turley
  • To tweeting that Priti Patel should be deported – to universal condemnation
  • To a swift suspension from the Labour Party.

All in a night’s work for the hard left…

The Patel tweet was the most egregious. At 20:17, Beckett posted that the Home Secretary – a brown British woman born in London – should be deported in order to combat institutional racism:

Fury from the right was swift, and the post came down in less than an hour. A Tory source told Guido “We look forward to Labour’s swift condemnation of this vile racism.” Condemn it Labour did, initially telling Guido they take “these allegations extremely seriously and appropriate action will be taken.” Just over an hour later he was suspended from the party. To pour fuel on the fire, a Labour source told Lewis Goodall “Keir is prising McCluskey’s cold, dead hand from the Labour Party.”

Howard tells Sky News that despite the suspension, and widespread condemnation within Labour – from Chris Bryant to Owen Jones and Jon Lansman – he is still in the running for the leadership of Unite. He also claimed the calls for Patel to be deported were “metaphorical”. It could still get worse for Beckett, as the deadline for Union seats on Labour’s NEC is the 11th June. If he’s still suspended it’s unlikely he’ll be eligible for renomination…

Beckett had already faced calls to be sacked earlier yesterday afternoon, after losing a £1.3 million legal battle in a libel case against Anna Turley. Turley had won the legal battle and £75,000 of damages against Unite and Skwawkbox in 2019 over a libellous article from 2017 on the blog, featuring a press statement from Unite implying she’d been dishonest when applying for union membership. A subsequent battle then launched over the legal costs, which Unite has also now lost. In the words of Tom Watson, “Their legal guy, @BeckettUnite should be sacked. Instead he’s actually running to be the new @LenMcCluskey!”

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