Labour's David Shearer has demoted David Cunliffe from the front bench after his "disappointing" failure to quell speculation of a takeover bid.
Labour MPs were summoned to Wellington for an urgent 4pm meeting today to vote on the leadership of the party.
Shearer said at a press conferenceafterwards this was to end speculation on his leadership and reported that the caucus had unanimously backed his leadership.
Cunliffe, who was on the front bench ranked at fifth place, would be demoted into an unranked member of caucus.
A replacement in the economic development portfolio would be announced soon.
Shearer said for Labour to accomplish its "ambitious" housing plan, announced at the weekend, he needed complete loyalty from MPs.
"Sadly Mr Cunliffe has not been able to show that loyalty," he said.
"His actions at the weekend were disappointing. I no longer have confidence in him he has lost my trust.
"After the leadership contest last year, I public expressed my support for David Cunliffe and appointed him to the front bench as a sign of my respect for him and desire for us to work together.
"I regret having to take the action I have today but he has left me with no alternative."
"He has been undermining my leadership, he has been unable to endorse my leadership, he has sought to further his own ambitions and all of that together is unacceptable."
Speculation of a challenge by Cunliffe overshadowed last weekend's annual conference and housing policy announcement.
Cunliffe yesterday welcomed the urgent vote, saying he would back Shearer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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