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Leader remains defiant

Cameron, Miliband and Dugdale join calls for Corbyn to resign

Jeremy Corbyn post Sheffield

* Labour leader loses vote of no confidence

* More senior figures have resigned

* Former Bank economist quits McDonnel’s team

Prime Minister David Cameron, former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale joined calls today for Jeremy Corbyn to resign.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, the PM criticised Mr Corbyn’s efforts during the EU referendum, telling him: “For heaven’s sake man, go.”

Mr Miliband said his successor’s position was “untenable” and Ms Dugdale said it was “extremely difficult” for Jeremy Corbyn to continue following a vote of no confidence among fellow MPs.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Dugdale said she could not do her job if she had lost the backing of most of her MSPs.

She said: “I would have to accept that, despite my own mandate of 72% from the party membership, if the overwhelming majority of Labour MSPs did not support my leadership, I would not be able to do this job effectively

“Jeremy and I were elected leader of the UK and Scottish parties at similar times with similar mandates. We both have a job of uniting our parliamentary party to be an effective opposition and ultimately a party of government.

“I would not be able to do my job if I did not have the support of the parliamentary party, regardless of the mandate that members give me. Jeremy should reflect on the outcome of the PLP vote but I would not carry on in similar circumstances.”

Mr Corbyn continued to defy calls to resign, instead sayin the vote – 172 to 40 calling for him to go – had no “constitutional legitimacy” under the rules of the party.

In a statement, Mr Corbyn said: “I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.

“We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.”

Dame Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP who tabled the no confidence motion, said the meeting in the Commons had been “extraordinary”.

She said: “I couldn’t believe the strength of feeling, the overwhelming rejection of Jeremy as our leader, and the pleading with him that he should consider his position and go with dignity.”

He was forced yesterday to reshuffle his shadow cabinet after most of his front bench team quit in protest at the party’s performance during the EU referendum campaign and because they do not believe he can lead the party to a General Election victory.

He suffered a further humiliation when Pat Glass resigned just 24 hours after being appointed as shadow education secretary.

Ian Murray, the MP for Edinburgh South, appealed to Mr Corbyn to go after members of the Momentum campaign group protested outside his constituency office.

“My staff are terrified. Call off the dogs, otherwise it will tear the party apart, Take responsibility for what you are doing to this party,” Mr Murray said.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn later insisted that demonstrations “are a key part of British democracy”.

One MP said: “A Labour MP was killed a fortnight ago. We are grieving and worried about our safety, and these bastards are telling people to protest outside our offices.”

More than two-thirds of the shadow cabinet have resigned in the last two days along with other senior figures in the party. The most recent resignations from Mr Corbyn’s top team include shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter, and Dave Sparks, a former chairman of the Local Government Association.

Yesterday Mr Corbyn responded the resignations by appointing the following to his shadow team:

  • Shadow Foreign Secretary – Emily Thornberry
  • Shadow Health Secretary – Diane Abbott
  • Shadow Education Secretary – Pat Glass (now resigned)
  • Shadow Transport Secretary – Andy McDonald
  • Shadow Defence Secretary – Clive Lewis
  • Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury – Rebecca Long-Bailey
  • Shadow International Development Secretary – Kate Osamor
  • Shadow Environment Food and Rural Affairs Secretary – Rachel Maskell
  • Shadow Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs – Cat Smith
  • Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary – Dave Anderson

Edinburgh MP Mr Murray said: “The Labour party has to be a strong opposition and has to build a broad coalition in order to get back into government. The Labour party needs to be in government and I’m not sure that can be delivered with Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party.

“This is not an easy time for the Labour party; it is not an easy time for me. This is the hardest political decision I have ever made but I have done it because I care about my party but more than that I care about the country.

“We need a strong Labour party in government to stop these mad decisions from the right wing of the Tory party that have sent the country both at UK level and in Scotland into political and constitutional turmoil.”

From Sunday’s Daily Business:

Hilary Benn, the shadow Foreign Secretary, was sacked in the early hours of Sunday morning following a telephone conversation with Mr Corbyn.

In her resignation letter Ms De Piero said: “I have always enjoyed a warm personal relationship with you and I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve in your shadow cabinet…

“I do not believe you can deliver that victory at a general election, which may take place in a matter of months. I have been contacted by many of my members this weekend and It is clear that a good number of them share that view and have lost faith in your leadership.”

Mr Benn, speaking in a television interview, said he told Mr Corbyn he had lost confidence in his leadership.

“I said I no longer had confidence in his leadership and he dismissed me from the Shadow Cabinet which is understandable. I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to serve as shadow Foreign Secretary.

____

“He is a good and decent man but he is not a leader and that is a problem.” – Hilary Benn on Jeremy Corbyn

____

“The Labour party needs strong and effective leadership to hold the government to account. We do not currently have that.

“There is also no confidence we can win a General Election as long as Jeremy remains as leader.

“He is a good and decent man but he is not a leader and that is a problem.”

The two fell out at the turn of the year over Mr Benn’s support for the bombing of Syria.

This is the second time Mr Corbyn has faced a rebellion in the party. In January Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow rail minister and shadow foreign affairs minister Stephen Doughty, resigned after Europe spokesman Pat McFadden and Shadow Culture Michael Dugher were dismissed.

Armed forces minister Kevan Jones resigned because of the party’s support for unilateral nuclear disarmament.

Despite his defiance, Mr Corbyn is now facing a fight for his future that he may struggle to survive.

The battle within Labour comes as the Conservative Party also faces an internal power struggle following Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to step down at the party conference in October.

David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, said he would not support Boris Johnson to succeed Mr Cameron.

He said: “We need someone who, at this difficult time, can bring the whole of the UK together and who can work to get Britain, Scotland the best deal in the EU and I am not convinced Mr Johnson is that person.”

> Comment: Can Corbyn survive?

 



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