Corbyn loses confidence vote over Brexit

British Labour Party lawmakers voted massively against their leader on Tuesday amid political turmoil in Britain after a vote to leave the European Union (EU) as candidates to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron vied for power behind the scenes.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn lost a non-binding confidence motion, with 172 Labour MPs voting against him and only 40 in favour out of a total of 229 Labour lawmakers in the House of Commons lower house.

But the veteran socialist insisted he would not stand down. “I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 per cent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy,” he said in a statement.

Leadership crisis

Five days after the shock referendum vote, the two parties that have dominated Westminster for nearly a century were in almost complete disarray.

Pro-EU Finance Minister George Osborne, long tipped to succeed Mr. Cameron, ruled himself out on Tuesday while British media reported that Work and Pensions Minister Stephen Crabb, a virtual unknown to the British public, would put his name forward.

Former London Mayor and ‘Leave’ figurehead Boris Johnson is tipped as one of the favourites.

The other is Interior Minister Theresa May who is reportedly seeking support for a rival bid that British media tipped as the “Stop Boris” campaign.

The Conservatives have set a Thursday deadline for nominations and the party said the winner would be announced on September 9.

On the opposition side, over half of Mr. Corbyn’s shadow cabinet — the leadership of his party — have now resigned since Sunday in a coordinated series of resignations against the 67-year-old, who only became leader in September. The Conservatives are scrambling to choose a successor to Mr. Cameron.

A new poll Tuesday put Ms. May in the lead with 31 per cent, against 24 per cent for Mr. Johnson. Nominations for the party leadership open on Wednesday, and close on Thursday.

If more than two candidates stand, Tory MPs will vote next week to whittle down the field to two nominees, before the new leader is chosen by a postal ballot of party members, who currently number around 150,000. The new Tory leader is expected to be announced on September 9, the party announced on Tuesday. — AFP