UK Labour leader faces re­volt over Brexit cam­paign

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL - LONDON—Op­po­si­tion

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn faced a re­volt on Sun­day over his han­dling of Bri­tain’s EU ref­er­en­dum as seven mem­bers of his top team re­signed and oth­ers seemed set to fol­low.

Cor­byn’s al­lies said he had no in­ten­tion of re­sign­ing, but his fu­ture looked shaky amid ac­cu­sa­tions that he is ill-equipped to deal with the fall­out from Bri­tain’s seis­mic de­ci­sion to quit the bloc.

“He’s a good and de­cent man but he is not a leader, and that’s the prob­lem,” Labour MP Hi­lary Benn told BBC tele­vi­sion af­ter be­ing sacked as for­eign af­fairs spokesman late Saturday for chal­leng­ing Cor­byn’s lead­er­ship.

His de­par­ture trig­gered a wave of res­ig­na­tions on Sun­day, in­clud­ing health spokes­woman Heidi Alexan­der, ed­u­ca­tion spokes­woman Lucy Pow­ell, Scot­tish spokesman Ian Mur­ray and trans­port spokes­woman Lil­ian Green­wood.

“As much as I re­spect you as a man of prin­ci­ple, I do not be­lieve you have the ca­pac­ity to shape the an­swers our coun­try is de­mand­ing,” Alexan­der wrote in her res­ig­na­tion let­ter to Cor­byn, which she pub­lished on Twit­ter.

She later told ITV tele­vi­sion: “I think that there are a fair num­ber of peo­ple who do feel sim­i­larly to me.”

One third of Labour vot­ers chose to leave the Euro­pean Union in Thurs­day’s his­toric vote, against the advice of the ma­jor­ity of their party’s MPs and the lead­er­ship.

Crit­ics say Cor­byn — who for decades had ex­pressed euroscep­tic views — could have done more to sway vot­ers.

Two Labour MPs tabled a vote of no con­fi­dence in Cor­byn on Fri­day, which is ex­pected to be dis­cussed at a meet­ing of the par­lia­men­tary Labour party (PLP) on Mon­day.

But the vet­eran so­cial­ist has in­di­cated he is go­ing nowhere, as did his al­lies.

Labour fi­nance spokesman John McDon­nell told BBC tele­vi­sion: “He was elected nine months ago, the biggest man­date of any po­lit­i­cal leader in our coun­try, and he is not go­ing any­where.”

“It’s a stupid ques­tion. He’s not go­ing to stand down,” the party’s de­fence spokes­woman Emily Thorn­berry told Sky News tele­vi­sion.

Cor­byn sup­porter Diane Ab­bott, the party’s in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment spokes­woman, ac­cused the rebels of plot­ting their move “for months”.

Many Labour MPs have been crit­i­cal of Cor­byn since his un­ex­pected elec­tion last Septem­ber in a vote by party mem­bers.

But they said the voter re­volt over the EU, the re­sult­ing tur­moil and the pos­si­bil­ity of an early gen­eral elec­tion fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron made his po­si­tion un­ten­able.

“If a gen­eral elec­tion is called later this year, which is a very real prospect, we be­lieve that un­der Jeremy’s lead­er­ship we could be look­ing at po­lit­i­cal obliv­ion,” Mar­garet Hodge, who tabled the no con­fi­dence mo­tion, wrote in a let­ter to fel­low Labour MPs.

In a sign of the chaos, deputy Labour leader Tom Wat­son was re­port­edly try­ing to make his way back to London on Sun­day af­ter at­tend­ing Glastonbury mu­sic fes­ti­val.

Andy Burn­ham, a for­mer govern­ment min­is­ter who fought Cor­byn for the party lead­er­ship and lost, re­fused to back the re­volt.

“At an un­cer­tain time like this for our coun­try, I can­not see how it makes sense for the op­po­si­tion to plunge it­self into a civil war,” he wrote on Twit­ter.

Any chal­lenger to Cor­byn would need the sup­port of 20 per­cent of the party’s 229 MPs and it would then be put to party mem­bers, who are strongly sup­port­ive of the leader.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear who might stand against him. Benn ruled him­self out, while McDon­nell also said he would “never stand for the lead­er­ship”. —AFP

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