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Labour Party divisions revealed as shadow ministers openly disagree with Jeremy Corbyn

By Sam Lister

Published 21/09/2015

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

The scale of the deep divisions at the top of the Labour Party have been laid bare as shadow cabinet ministers put themselves on a collision course with the new leader over a series of crucial issues.

Jeremy Corbyn, an anti-war campaigner, opposes the replacement of the nuclear weapons system, has questioned the role of Nato and is expected to oppose military intervention in Syria.

But senior party figures have set out policy red lines that put them at odds with Ed Miliband's successor and described his victory as an "earthquake".

Lord Falconer, a close friend of Tony Blair who served in the former prime minister's Government, said he had "no idea" if Mr Corbyn would be prime minister after the 2020 general election.

The shadow justice secretary told BBC One's Sunday Politics: "What's happened is an earthquake in the Labour Party."

Lord Falconer set out his disagreements with Mr Corbyn's views on a wide range of policy areas, including defence, foreign affairs, welfare, education and the economy.

"He said during the course of the leadership election that, for example, he might think about withdrawing from Nato. That would obviously be something I could not agree with," he said.

Lord Falconer said he was in favour of renewing Trident, but said it was for the party to debate the issue.

The peer also set his face against suggestions by Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell that the policy that gave the Bank of England independence could be reversed

"I'm in favour of keeping the Bank of England independent," the peer said as he also set out his opposition to any plans for nationalising the banks.

The former cabinet minister said he did "not want to see" the schools academy programme abandoned and described the welfare cap Mr Corbyn is fiercely opposed to as "a quite sensible measure".

He also dismissed the leader's suggestions that the gas and electricity national grids should be nationalised. "I'm not in favour of that. I think that would be a vast expenditure when there are so many other things we should be spending money on, so that would not be the right thing to do."

Asked if the shadow cabinet faced some robust discussions, he replied: "Yes, I think you are right." Lord Falconer's decision to disclose his policy red lines come after shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn set out his support for Trident and Nato.

Mr Benn said military alliance was the "conerstone of our security" and insisted he did not see Britain withdrawing.

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