Labour Party lawmaker Lloyd Russell-Moyle won re-election to Parliament in 2019. (Andres Pantoja/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a gay British MP, has resigned from the Labour Party frontbench as shadow environment minister after a row over JK Rowling’s anti-trans comments reached boiling point.
The Brighton Kemptown representative explained in a Twitter statement Thursday evening that a barbed “campaign by the right-wing media” pressured for him to resign.
He said this had “unleashed a torrent of online hate” and daily abusive calls to his staff, adding he would need a “few weeks” to recover from the drubbing and support his workers.
This afternoon I spoke to Keir and asked to step back from the front bench duties as Minister for Air Quality and the Natural Environment but remain a Labour and Co-operative MP for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven.
See my statement below. 👇 pic.twitter.com/g1I8T7QLVg
— Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP🌹🇪🇺🏳️🌈 (@lloyd_rm) July 16, 2020
Lloyd Russell-Moyle: ‘It is my job to get political flack, but it is not the job of staff to be attacked.’
It comes after a roiled few weeks for the barrier-breaking lawmaker, who was the first person publicly known to be living with HIV to be elected to parliament.
Russell-Moyle accused author Rowling, who has gone from stoop-sitter to forceful trans rights commentator, of “using” her experience of domestic abuse to attack trans people.
He later backtracked his comments and issued an apology after his comments – published in a left-leaning magazine – were picked up by the national press and Rowling, a free speech advocate, sought to extinguish them.
“I want to apologise unreservedly about the comments,” he said in a statement. “JK Rowling’s first disclosures of domestic abuse and sexual assault in her recent article on trans issues were heartfelt and must have been hard to say.”
…were heartfelt and must have been hard to say. Whilst I may disagree with some of her analysis on trans rights, it was wrong of me to suggest that she used her own dreadful experience in anything other than good faith.
I have asked Tribune to remove the line in question. 2/2
— Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP🌹🇪🇺🏳️🌈 (@lloyd_rm) June 28, 2020
While no immediate action was taken by Labour leaders after the scuffle, Russell-Moyle revealed in the statement that the backlash since has whittled him down, becoming “untenable” for him.
He said he informed leader Keir Starmer of his intention to quit his post sometime Thursday over the phone.
“I shall return to backbenches for the time being to support Keir in defending and furthering the manifesto we stood on and to achieve a Labour government,” the statement said.
“It is my job to get political flack, but it is not the job of caseworkers, researchers and assistants to be attacked.
“It has also led to hounding and stress, from which I need a few weeks to support my team and myself to collectively recover.”
A Labour Party representative said: “Lloyd spoke to Keir Starmer this afternoon and informed Keir of his decision to step back from frontbench duties as shadow minister for the natural environment.
“Keir thanked Lloyd for his hard work on the frontbench and wished him well in his plans for the coming months to focus on housing and youth services.”