Corbyn told: If you can’t see
THE Labour Party was plunged into unprecedented turmoil last night as Jeremy Corbyn faced open revolt among his MPs while Left-wing backers massed outside Parliament cheering for him to stay as leader.
MPs said they had never seen anything like the fury and frustration directed at the party leader by MPs at a behind-closed-doors meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
As many as 20 MPs spoke out against him at the meeting at the end of a second day of mass resignations from the Labour frontbench, which were designed to force him out.
Critics, who included MPs previously loyal to Mr Corbyn, urged him to “search inside himself” to see if he could really see himself becoming prime minister. Labour MP Ian Austin said after the meeting: “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
One ex-frontbencher was said to have pleaded with him at the meeting to “call off the dogs”. He claimed proCorbyn protestors had intimidated his constituency staff by protesting outside his office after he quit.
Another MP who resigned his frontMr Corbyn went straight to join a large rally called to support him in nearby Parliament Square by hardLeft support group Momentum. The activists waved red flags and beat drums as they chanted: “Tories out, Corbyn in,” and “Jez we can”, as they demanded that critical Labour MPs “back off” and threatened them with deselection by their local parties.
During a speech, Mr Corbyn told them: “Don’t let the media divide us. Don’t let those people who wish us ill divide us.”
Other speakers included Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who told the crowd the party’s woes were down to “a small number of MPs”.
Diane Abbott, who became new Shadow Health Secretary after Heidi Alexander quit on Sunday, declared: “It’s about more than one man, it’s about the people that need a progressive Labour Party.”
So far 47 of the party’s 110 frontbench team have quit since Sunday. They include 20 members of the 29-strong Shadow Cabinet, as well as 18 shadow ministers and nine parliamentary private secretaries. They all urged Mr Corbyn to stand down, claiming he was not up to the job and could not win a general election.
Defiant Mr Corbyn rejected their demands despite a second day of mass walkouts from his frontbench yesterday – 20 of the 47 quit. He was left scrambling to fill the posts.
New appointments included Emily Thornberry who replaced sacked Hilary Benn as Shadow Foreign Secretary.
Mr Corbyn faces a vote of no confidence today from other MPs, which although it is not binding they hope will help to force him out.
The Labour leader yesterday inflamed MPs’ anger and despair by openly attacking them in the House of Commons.
He spoke in response to outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement on Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union.
Mr Corbyn told the PM, whose own resignation plan has triggered a Tory leadership contest: “Our country is divided and the country will thank neither the [Conservative] benches in front of me, nor those behind, for indulging in internal factional manoeuvring at this time.”
Many Labour MPs were visibly horrified and furious, with some shaking their heads and putting their hands over their faces in despair. There were even calls to quit from his MPs.