Watts to re-appoint Claudia Webbe to Islington cabinet after failed Lewisham MP bid

Richard Watts and Claudia Webbe. Photograph: Islington Council

Council Leader Richard Watts plans to re-appoint Cllr Claudia Webbe to his cabinet – called the Executive – after she lost her bid to be Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lewisham East.

Cllr Watts, speaking to the Islington Citizen before the annual council meeting on Thursday, said: “I intend to re-appoint the current Executive team on Thursday.”

Webbe received 35 votes on Saturday’s selection vote by Lewisham Labour, coming in third place after Lewisham councillor Sakina Sheikh, who received 135 votes, and Lewisham Deputy Mayor Janet Daby, who won the contest with 288 votes.

Lewisham Labour Party members were choosing a candidate to run in the upcoming byelection triggered by the resignation of Heidi Alexander MP.

Webbe was backed by the trade union Unite, while Sheikh was backed by Momentum, and Daby ran vowing to keep Britain in the European single market and customs union.

In an interview with the Citizen last week, Webbe, who is councillor for Bunhill ward, defended her bid to be a Lewisham MP, saying: “I think I can represent the people of Lewisham East. That is not a slur on the people of Bunhill.”

Webbe said if selected in Lewisham she would ask not to be re-appointed to her “full-time role” in Islington’s Executive, but would stay on as an Islington councillor even if she was elected MP.

She said: “I’m passionate about Bunhill. They as residents are passionate about me as well.

“I don’t think the residents of Bunhill will think I have not provided a service to them. I’m not somebody who’s just arrived and I’m abandoning my community.”

Before Saturday’s vote, Cllr Watts endorsed Webbe’s Lewisham bid, telling the Citizen: “I’ve got to know Claudia well over the last few years and I think she’d make an excellent MP and I wish her well in Lewisham East.”

His confirmation today that he will re-appoint the current Executive means Webbe will return as cabinet member for transport and the environment.

The Executive will be agreed this Thursday, 24 May, at the council’s annual meeting at the Town Hall.