A LABOUR shadow cabinet minister resigned with an attack on Keir Starmer during the party's conference. 

Andy McDonald, one of the last left-wingers loyal to Jeremy Corbyn in the shadow cabinet, accused Sir Keir Starmer of not honouring “our commitment to socialist policies”.

McDonald, who served as employment rights secretary, quit on Monday while Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar was speaking to delegates in Brighton, where he used the opportunity to take a pop at the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon.

Meanwhile McDonald, who also served under Corbyn, said the leader’s office had instructed him to argue against a national minimum wage of £15 per hour and against statutory sick pay at the living wage.

READ MORE: Politics Live: Anas Sarwar probed on Angela Rayner 'scum' remarks

He wrote: “This is something I could not do.

“After many months of a pandemic when we made commitments to stand by key workers, I cannot now look those same workers in the eye and tell them they are not worth a wage that is enough to live on, or that they don’t deserve security when they are ill.”

He added: “I joined your frontbench team on the basis of the pledges that you made in the leadership campaign to bring about unity within the party and maintain our commitment to socialist policies.

“After 18 months of your leadership, our movement is more divided than ever and the pledges that you made to the membership are not being honoured. This is just the latest of many.”

The National:

The move comes as Starmer (pictured) hoped to use his first in-person party conference as leader to define what a Labour government could look like.

The party had been trying to get the Brighton event back on track after an internal row over election rules for future leaders passed despite opposition from the left.

A shout of “Andy McDonald, solidarity” was applauded and cheered by some Labour members in the main conference hall as news of the Middlesbrough MP’s resignation circulated.

The news appeared to take many senior Labour figures by surprise as they were asked about it during the conference.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told a conference fringe event she was unaware of McDonald’s dramatic resignation.

She said: “I don’t know the details about Andy McDonald’s decision.

“I can’t answer questions about why he has resigned.

“I pay tribute to Andy McDonald for the great work he has done on the front bench.”

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said he was “genuinely surprised” by the resignation.

Asked about McDonald’s accusations, he told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “Well, I don’t think it’s true for starters.

The National:

Rachel Reeves was one of many senior Labour figures taken by surprise by McDonald's resignation

“Right now, I’m a little bit surprised to hear this just because of the conversations we were having earlier on and I know how invested he was in the new deal for working people and so was Angela (Rayner) who he launched it jointly with, so I’m genuinely surprised.”

Len McCluskey, former Unite leader, said McDonald’s resignation saw the “last Corbynite leave the shadow cabinet”.

He told Times Radio: “He’s a really decent man, he’s worked very, very hard with all the trade unions on employment issues and his letter of resignation is quite stinging.

“He makes the point that Keir was elected on a radical platform and yet he has abandoned that radical platform and the party is moving more and more away from it. Now he’s made this specific allegation that he was asked to argue against a £15 minimum wage which he wasn’t prepared to do.

READ MORE: Andy Burnham says Scottish independence would be like Manchester travel ban

“But yeah, it’s a blow. It’s a blow to Andy, and it’s a blow to Keir, and it’s a blow to the party.”

In response to McDonald’s resignation, Starmer said: “I want to thank Andy for his service in the shadow cabinet.

“Labour’s comprehensive new deal for working people shows the scale of our ambition and where our priorities lie.

“My focus and that of the whole party is on winning the next General Election so we can deliver for working people who need a Labour government.”