‘Labour is doomed’ warning after MP Hunt quits
Insiders fear disillusionment with Corbyn will lead to more leaving
LABOUR insiders are predicting many more of the party’s MPs, disillusioned with the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, will stand down in the next 18 months to pursue alternative careers.
The warning came after Tristram Hunt announced he is to leave Westminster after seven years as a Labour MP.
The 42-year-old former shadow education secretary is to become the next director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, sparking a by-election in his Stoke-on-Trent Central constituency.
Under normal circumstances, Mr Hunt’s 5,179 majority would be regarded as comfortable to defend for Labour, but these are unusual political times.
Stoke has been described as Britain’s “Brexit capital”. The Staffordshire seat recorded one of the highest proportions of those who voted to leave the EU; 81,563 people as opposed to just 36,027, who voted to remain.
In the 2015 General Election, Ukip came second just ahead of the Conservatives.
The Liberal Democrats, who came in fifth two years ago, might be regarded as having no chance in such a pro-leave constituency, but on Thursday it won a council by-election in Sunderland, another city that heavily backed Brexit. The seat was previously held by Labour.
Paul Oakden, Ukip’s chairman, said the party would be “fighting hard” to win Stoke. “The resignation of Tristram Hunt highlights the brighter future that many in the Labour Party feel they have away from Jeremy Corbyn and his brand of politics,” said Mr Oakden.
Nigel Farage, the party’s former leader, was blunter.
“Tristram Hunt’s resignation from Stoke will be followed by many others. Labour is doomed.”
The Labour MP’s departure will be seen as another significant loss among the party’s moderates, who fear the left’s grip on the party is now unbreakable. One MP said: “Given the opportunity, scores of Labour MPs will follow the lead of Reed and Hunt. The whips know it and are braced for more departures.”
A former shadow Cabinet minister told politicshome.com: “Being a backbench MP with no prospect of power wasn’t really what Tristram signed up for. Good luck to him and God help the rest of us.”
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former communications chief, said Mr Hunt’s departure would be a “big loss”, and tweeted: “So many MPs fear Labour going nowhere under Jeremy Corbyn.”
Mr Hunt, who refused to serve on Mr Corbyn’s frontbench, is the second centrist Labour MP to quit the UK Parliament in a matter of weeks for a job outside politics.
Last month, Jamie Reed announced he was standing down as MP for Copeland in Cumbria for work at the Sellafield nuclear plant.
In response, Mr Corbyn issued a two-line statement, saying: “I would like to thank Tristram Hunt for his service to the people of Stoke-on-Trent Central and to the Labour Party. I wish him well in his future role at the V&A.”
He added: “I’m not expecting any other MPs to resign.
“In most parliaments there are a number of by-elections, so if they come, they come.”
‘‘ I’m not expecting any other MPs to resign. In most parliaments there are a number of by-elections, so if they come, they come
NEW CAREER: Tristram Hunt is to become the next director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, sparking a by-election.