Labour’s Marsha de Cordova quitting equalities role has ‘nothing to do with trans rights’

Labour shadow equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova poses for a photograph

British Labour Party politician Marsha de Cordova has quit her role on the opposition frontbench as shadow women and equalities minister.

Her abrupt departure from the shadow cabinet was announced by the Battersea MP Tuesday afternoon (14 September) on Twitter, a decision made with “much sadness”.

Now taking to the backbenches to focus on her constituents, sources told LabourList that her resignation has “absolutely nothing to do with trans rights”.

“It has been an immense privilege to serve as the shadow women and equalities secretary for the past 17 months,” de Cordova tweeted.

“It, therefore, comes with much sadness that I am resigning with immediate effect.

“Having only been elected in 2017 for the historically marginal constituency of Battersea, I would like to focus more of my time and efforts on the people of Battersea.

“I will continue to support Keir Starmer from the backbenches.”

Keir Starmer thanks Marsha de Cordova for ‘tackling inequalities’

De Cordova won the south London seat from the Tories in 2017, clinching a thumping victory the following year with an increased majority of 5,668 in 2019.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer thanked de Cordova following her resignation.

“I would like to thank Marsha de Cordova for her service and in particular her work highlighting the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on Black, Asian, minority ethnic and disabled people,” he tweeted.

“Marsha has also laid the foundations for a new Race Equality Act that Labour would introduce to tackle the structural inequalities which have existed in our society for too long.”

De Cordova’s tenure as shadow equalities minister was one marked by her high-decibel opposition to the ruling Conservative Party’s rocky approach to LGBT+ rights.

Taking aim at equalities secretary Liz Truss, de Cordova said in parliament last year that the Tories have “disgracefully let the transgender community down” by failing to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), the benchmark of gender recognition law in Britain.

Keir Starmer and Marsha de Cordova. (Peter Summers/Getty Images)

But sources told LabourList that there have been “tensions” over trans rights cracking within the party that has, at times, been captured by the leadership’s sluggishness with responding to Labour MP Rosie Duffield’s rankled relationship with trans people.

De Cordova nevertheless insisted that the party remains firmly committed to rolling out self-identification for trans people, even though her support on the matter has been, at times, spotty. 

She has also herself been at loggerheads with the leadership, being alongside eight other Black lawmakers who said they were “disappointed and seriously concerned” by the indefinite delay of the Forde Inquiry, which would have provided a key accounting of a leaked report over the party’s handling of antisemitism complaints.

Marsha De Cordova’s replacement has not yet been announced at the time of writing.