Corbyn refuses to step down in face of no-confidence motion against him

A defiant Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not step down as Leader of the Labour Party despite pressures from within the parliamentary wing of his party and protest resignations from his shadow cabinet. He said that he is willing to stand in a leadership contest again, and will only step down if he loses the confidence of the party members who elected him.

Mr. Corbyn faces a crucial meeting of Labour’s parliamentary party members on Monday where a no confidence motion will be debated. Twenty-five members of his shadow cabinet have resigned in protest against his leadership, and even his deputy leader, Tom Watson, appears to be sympathetic to their case. He reportedly told Mr. Corbyn that he had lost the confidence of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

The unions have announced their support for Mr. Corbyn, as have a large section of ordinary party members. Momentum, the grassroots campaign network have been active on Facebook and social media gathering support for him, and is organizing a public meeting in his support even as the crucial parliamentary party meeting gets underway.

His supporters argue that Mr. Corbyn took an honest and nuanced campaign position, arguing for the U.K. to stay in the European Union, but to also seek to reform EU in the direction of greater democracy, transparency and accountability.

In a recent BBC interview, Mr. Corbyn’s ally Diane Abbott accused his critics of using the referendum result to trigger a coup that was long in the making, right from when Mr. Corbyn was elected with an overwhelming popular mandate in September last year. At that time their opposition to the newly-elected leader could not find focus or support, and indeed subsequently many of his critics joined the shadow cabinet on his explicit invitation.

Shadow cabinet members resign

Starting with Hilary Benn, who was asked to step down by Mr. Corbyn after Mr. Benn, Shadow Foreign Minister expressed his lack of confidence in his leader, a spate of resignations from his shadow cabinet and parliamentary aides followed.

Among the 25 resignations from the parliamentary party are Angela Eagle, Shadow First Secretary, who used to deputise for Mr. Corbyn in his absence at Prime Minister’s Questions, Maria Eagle (defence), Heidi Alexander (health), Ian Murray (secretary of state for Scotland), Seema Malhotra (treasury) Lucy Powel (Education) , Lisa Nandy (energy), and Owen Smith (work and pensions).

In their resignation letters they laid the blame for ordinary Labour Party members deserting the 'Remain' cause at his door, accusing him of running a lacklustre referendum campaign. Going forward, he is the wrong leader to take the Labour Party into the next general election.

Ms. Eagle told the BBC’s World at One that her decision to resign was “agonizing” but she did so because “it just wasn’t working.” She claimed that despite the collective message of the party to support 'Remain', just days before the referendum vote “it emerged that half of our voters didn’t know what that was.” She added that in the general election “we can’t have our party led by someone who can’t get that simple message across.”

Ms. Turley was one of at least five members of his team to quit on a tumultuous morning for Mr. Corbyn, who was elected as party leader last year on a surprise wave of enthusiasm for his left-wing agenda and promise of a new approach to politics.

Several aides to Mr. Corbyn's team also resigned. All of those resigning will remain elected members of parliament.

New shadow cabinet

Amid the flurry of resignations, Mr. Corbyn announced a number of appointments to replace those who quit on Sunday, promoting several members of his inner core of left-wing supporters to senior defence and foreign policy roles.

Mr. Corbyn's new shadow cabinet comprises of some from the earlier cabinet and some new appointees. Emily Thornberry was shifted from shadow defence secretary to shadow foreign secretary, replacing Hilary Benn. Among the others are Diane Abbott (health) Pat Glass (education), Any McDonald (transport), Clive Lewis (defence). Andy Burnham (Home), a one-time contender for Mr. Corbyn’s position stays as does John McDonnell (Chancellor).

“Those who want to change Labour’s leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate,” Mr. Corbyn said.

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2020 8:07:44 PM |

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