I made the decision yesterday to resign from the Shadow Cabinet. I issued the following statement:
On his resignation as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Vernon Coaker said:
"I entered politics because of my belief in Labour values and I have been honoured and privileged to serve the people of Gedling in both government and opposition.
"David Cameron's decision to promise a referendum during the last general election campaign has resulted in the seismic changes the country is now undertaking. The decision to leave Europe leaves the whole of the UK facing massive uncertainty and Labour now needs a strong and clear direction to serve as an effective opposition as we move forward, particularly if we face a General Election in the next 12 months.
"I believe it is now time for the party to unite behind a new leader to ensure our MPs can serve the whole of the electorate as that effective opposition. It is with deep regret that I am therefore tendering my resignation from the shadow cabinet.
"It has been a privilege to serve as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I have sought to make it my priority to provide reassurance to the people and political parties of Northern Ireland that Labour remains committed to the principle of consent, as expressed through the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements. I know my successor in this role continues this vital work.
"Finally, as our country and our Party comes to terms with the serious consequences of a vote to leave the EU and seeks to navigate a way through, I hope we can do so with mutual respect and solidarity.
"Labour draws on a long history of fighting in the interests of working people right across Britain - and we now have a great responsibility to provide a strong, credible and serious alternative to a government in crisis. This should be our sole focus and, regardless of our personal disagreements, I know we will move forward continuing to treat each other with consideration and respect."
It is with regret I am writing to tell you that I am resigning from the shadow cabinet.
I have been privileged to serve as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland over the last year. Providing reassurance to the people of Northern Ireland of our party's continued commitment to the principle of consent, as expressed through the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements, has been important, at times difficult, but also incredibly rewarding.
Following the result of the EU Referendum the challenges facing our country are profound. The values of our party have never been more relevant but our country requires leadership and vision that I do not believe you are in a position to provide, particularly when we may face the prospect of a General Election in the next 12 months.
After having served on Labour's frontbench - both in and out of government - for thirteen years, I am sad to be leaving it now. However I believe I can best contribute to the renewal of our party from the backbenches. I have been honoured to represent the people of Gedling since 1997 and it is this experience that will inform my work towards the goal for which our party exists: to serve the people of the UK in government.