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Monday, 15 July, 2002, 06:12 GMT 07:12 UK
Cook quits RMT
Mr Cook said his decision left him with a heavy heart
Robin Cook is to end his 27-year-old relationship with the RMT when he quits transport union in protest at its decision to withdraw funding from his constituency party.

The leader of the House of Commons announced his decision in a newspaper interview.


I am going to resign from the RMT - I say that with a heavy heart

Robin Cook
His decision follows that of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott who resigned from the RMT just over two weeks ago.

Both men left because of a decision by the RMT to only sponsor MPs who pledged to support a union policy statement which includes a commitment to campaign renationalisation of the railways.

Mr Cook told the Independent newspaper: "I am going to resign from the RMT. I say that with a heavy heart.

"I regret I am not able to continue my links."

Mr Cook added: "I am not going to sign up to a separate manifesto to that of the Labour Party or a specific set of commitments which limits my freedom in the House."

Mr Prescott quit the union saying it was trying to dictate how he should vote in Parliament.

And he accused the RMT of coming close to a breach of parliamentary privilege by trying to exercise improper influence over MPs.

That prompted Commons Speaker Michael Martin to look into the RMT's behaviour.

He found they had not breached parliamentary privilege.

Crow denial

Mr Cook and Mr Prescott's are not the only resignations.

Labour MPs John Heppell and Hugh Bayley have also quit the union.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT
Bob Crow: Working people are under-represented
RMT boss Bob Crow has denied he had ever threatened to withdraw cash if members failed to vote in the way he wanted.

"All we're saying is that we want MPs to campaign, in general, on those issues," he said when after Mr Prescott's resignation.

"When it comes to a vote that's up to the individual MP how he or she votes, and obviously he or she has got to pay conscience to the constituency they come from.

"We've never said 'either you vote this way or you get no money'," he told the BBC.

The RMT has also agreed overwhelmingly to make a hefty cut in its financial contribution to Labour, from 110,000 down to 20,000 - the biggest proportionate reduction so far by any union.

At the root of the unions' disenchantment is the Labour government's refusal to halt the privatisation of public services.

See also:

26 Jun 02 | Politics
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27 Jun 02 | Politics
09 Jul 02 | England
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