Cor­byn faces lead­er­ship coup from 150 Labour MPs

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Ben Ri­ley-Smith PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

AS MANY as 150 MPs will today vote to oust Jeremy Cor­byn, as the Labour leader threat­ened to re­cruit 100,000 hard-Left sup­port­ers to cling on to power.

In a dra­matic day in West­min­ster, Mr Cor­byn was hit by dozens of res­ig­na­tions over his lead­er­ship as the to­tal of front-benchers to leave rose to 44 over the past two days.

The Labour leader faced heck­les of “re­sign” from his own MPs as he at­tempted to face down the coup in the House of Com­mons by claim­ing rebels were be­ing un­pa­tri­otic by chal­leng­ing him.

Later, in a heated pri­vate meet­ing with MPs, back­benchers openly mocked him as he at­tempted to claim he can win a gen­eral elec­tion.

The row spilled out into the cor­ri­dors as MPs and Mr Cor­byn’s aides chal­lenged each other over their be­hav­iour in re­cent days. Moder­ate MP John Wood­cock ac­cused the leader’s of­fice of spread­ing “lies and dis­tor­tion”, while Cor­byn aides chal­lenged rebels to call a con­test “tomorrow” be­cause they are so con­fi­dent of vic­tory.

An­gela Ea­gle, who re­signed as shadow busi­ness sec­re­tary yes­ter­day, is now con­sid­er­ing launch­ing a lead­er­ship chal­lenge as con­tenders be­gan sound­ing out col­leagues for sup­port.

Mr Cor­byn was yes­ter­day told by Tom Wat­son, the Labour deputy leader, that he had lost the sup­port of his MPs and should pre­pare for a lead­er­ship con­test.

Five pre­vi­ously sup­port­ive shadow cabi­net min­is­ters also re­signed yes­ter­day af­ter a tense meet­ing with Mr Cor­byn, with one of the Left-wingers be­ing re­duced to tears. Yet the Labour leader re­mained de­fi­ant, with aides in­sist­ing he would not be top­pled by the “cor­ri­dor coup” and chal­leng­ing ri­vals to beat him in a for­mal lead­er­ship con­test.

They are ready to ex­ploit party rules that al­low peo­ple to tem­po­rar­ily join Labour for £3 to re­cruit 100,000

Left-wing ac­tivists who would pri­mar­ily back Mr Cor­byn in a vote.

Mo­men­tum, the pro-Cor­byn ac­tivist group, yes­ter­day gath­ered more a thou­sand sup­port­ers to Par­lia­ment Square as a show of sup­port for the Labour leader, chant­ing “Cor­byn Stay”.

It is un­der­stood the body is ready to use its 120,000 sup­port­ers and 130 lo­cal groups to cam­paign for Mr Cor­byn’s re-elec­tion, with a source say­ing: “We are ready to spring into ac­tion.”

Today, days of in­fight­ing will come to a head as MPs de­cide in a se­cret bal­lot whether they have con­fi­dence in Mr Cor­byn as Labour leader. Sources fore­cast that up to 70 per cent of MPs – equiv­a­lent to around 150 – will have voted with the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence when polling closes at 4pm.

How­ever, the re­sult will be non­bind­ing and Mr Cor­byn is ex­pected to fight on, chal­leng­ing rebels to gather more than 51 MP or MEP sig­na­tures that would trig­ger a for­mal con­test.

On Mon­day, Mr Cor­byn was hit by res­ig­na­tions of an­other seven shadow cabi­net min­is­ters as well as fif­teen shadow min­is­ters and seven par­lia­men­tary pri­vate sec­re­taries. The La- bour leader at­tempted to face down his crit­ics in the Com­mons as MPs gath­ered for the first time since the country de­cided to vote for Brexit.

Mr Cor­byn told the Com­mons: “Our country is di­vided, and the country will thank nei­ther the Gov­ern­ment Benches in front of me nor the Op­po­si­tion Benches be­hind for in­dulging in in­ter- nal fac­tional ma­noeu­vring at this time.” The com­ment pro­voked anger form the Labour MPs be­hind Mr Cor­byn, with one call­ing out for him to “re­sign”. One Left-winger also swore at rebels as the party’s cri­sis played out in pub­lic.

At a gath­er­ing of the Par­lia­men­tary Labour party later in the day, Mr Cor­byn was told to “take re­spon­si­bil­ity” for the failed EU ref­er­en­dum cam­paign as MPs crit­i­cised their leader.

Ms Ea­gle, the MP for Wal­lasey, twice re­fused to rule out chal­leng­ing Jeremy Cor­byn for the lead­er­ship on live ra­dio and is un­der­stood to be sound­ing out col­leagues. She ap­peared close to tears as she dis­cussed her “emo­tional” de­ci­sion to stand down from the front bench and urged Mr Cor­byn to quit for the good of the party.

Seen as be­ing on the soft-Left, Ms Ea­gle is said by sup­port­ers to be some­one who can win over party mem­bers who backed Mr Cor­byn while bring­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence needed to han­dle the fall­out from the Brexit vote. For­mer front­benchers have told The

Daily Tele­graph that Ms Ea­gle is ex­pected to stand and said she will win the sup­port of many se­nior Left-wing MPs.

Jeremy Cor­byn ad­dresses a crowd of sup­port­ers at a Mo­men­tum rally in Par­lia­ment Square

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