Unite suspends Len McCluskey challenger Gerard Coyne just hours after polls close

Laura Hughes
Len McCluskey

Unite have suspended Gerard Coyne, who is challenging Len McCluskey to lead the union, from his post as West Midlands Regional Secretary.

The suspension comes amid speculation that the leadership contest result is “incredibly close” after the polls closed this afternoon. 

The move was confirmed by Mr Coyne's spokesman, but the union have declined to comment.

Gerard Coyne, Unite's former Midlands regional secretary Credit: Richard Vernalls/PA Wire

Mr McCluskey has accused Mr Coyne of being backed by a "cabal" of MPs "fighting a proxy war against Corbyn" in what is being seen as a battle between moderate and left-wing factions of the party.

Earlier this month Mr Coyne said Mr McCluskey had "lost the plot" and dismissed claims his campaign is being orchestrated by Labour MPs seeking to remove the Labour leader.

It is understood that an email was sent to Unite members and staff in the West Midlands on Thursday afternoon informing them that Mr Coyne had been suspended from his job.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of Labour Party, stands next to Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite Credit: Rob Stothard/Getty

The development came as ballot papers were starting to be counted in the election for the next general secretary of the biggest union in the country.

A spokesman for Mr Coyne said: “We can confirm that Gerard has been suspended from his position as West Midlands regional secretary of Unite the Union. We will not be commenting further at this stage.”

A Unite spokesperson declined to comment when approached by the Telegraph. 

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