Members of the Wakefield Constituency Labour Party’s executive committee all quit after a disagreement about how to choose candidates.
Former Conservative MP Imran Ahman Khan gave up his Wakefield seat after he was found guilty of sexually abusing a 15-year-old child.
An internal squabble inside the Wakefield Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has resulted in a mass resignation of its executive committee members.
Sky News has learned that the CLP leadership met on Thursday and issued a resolution requiring all members to resign from the organisation.
A by-election has been set up in Wakefield because former Conservative MP Imran Ahman Khan quit after being convicted of sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy. The Conservatives are expected to run against the Labour Party.
But the party has instead been battling among itself about who will be nominated as the Labour candidate.
Because of a fight between the national and local parties, three local candidates, including the deputy council leader, Jack Hemingway, were taken off the shortlist.
In the end, only two people remained: Kate Dearden and Simon Lightwood, neither of whom are Wakefield natives.
Rumours that went around yesterday said that the local party’s secretary and executive officials are thinking about leaving in protest.
During a meeting on Friday, a member of the executive revealed that all of the CLP had resigned.
“Safe to say that local members feel completely let down that the rule book has not been followed and we have not been given the opportunity to select our candidate,” they said.
“The Labour Party haven’t learnt and they’re not listening. The rule book has just been through the window and I’m furious. People are hitting the ceiling about it.
“That’s everyone gone. Imagine the party will have to come in. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
A spokesperson for the Labour Party said: “We’re really pleased to have two fantastic candidates on the shortlist with strong connections to the local community.
“On Sunday local members will make the final choice on a candidate who will be a strong champion for Wakefield and represent a fresh start against a backdrop of Tory failure.
“Wakefield has been badly let down by the Conservatives and our focus is on winning the by-election and ensuring local people in Wakefield get the representation and the hard working MP it deserves.”
Even though the statement came from Labour HQ, a Labour source in Wakefield told Sky News on Thursday that the local members are very angry about what they see as a set-up.
The controversy could be a big problem for Labour as it tries to win back the seat from the Conservatives in the Wakefield by-election.
Without their ground forces, their local campaign and their chances of winning this important red wall fight will be hurt a lot.