TheJournal.ie uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Click here to find out more »
Dublin: 10 °C Sunday 19 November, 2017
Advertisement

Wait, what exactly is happening with Jeremy Corbyn and Labour right now?

The Tories are in disarray. So why are Labour choosing to move against their leader?

THERE HAVE BEEN concerns about Jeremy Corbyn’s abilities among others at the top of the UK Labour Party for months.

A potential coup was reportedly set aside around the time of the local elections last month, as it was thought he couldn’t be beaten in a leadership contest.

So why have MPs chosen now, of all times, to launch their heave against their left-wing leader?

EU referendum Jeremy Corbyn Source: Anthony Devlin

What’s going on?  

In the immediate aftermath of the Brexit result, shadow chancellor and key Corbyn ally John McDonnell penned an article calling for unity in the party.

“These are uncertain and dangerous times for all of us,” he wrote in the Guardian.

McDonnell added:

At a time of such economic uncertainty, with the Tory party split clean down the middle, Labour members and voters will not forgive us if we descend into infighting and introspection only a year after Jeremy Corbyn won his landslide victory as our leader.

However, a motion of no confidence in Corbyn was tabled on Friday – and the drama stepped up several gears over the weekend, with the firing of the shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, and a raft of resignations from other senior spokespeople.

Benn was sacked in the early hours of Sunday morning amid claims he was encouraging shadow cabinet members to resign should Corbyn ignore a no confidence vote.

Benn, a respected figure in his own right in addition to being the son of the late Tony Benn, said there was ”widespread concern” about the leader’s abilities. The resignation letters from his colleagues started to flood in, as the day progressed.

A raft of Labour’s senior spokespeople have quit since then – penning similarly-worded ‘Dear Jeremy’ letters. Those resignations have been continuing apace today (see below).

All the while, the embattled Corbyn has been insisting he’s going nowhere.

Why now?

Corbyn, a little known left-wing MP for decades, was catapulted to the leadership of the party last autumn in the wake of the failure of his predecessor, Ed Miliband, to win the UK general election.

Sweeping to victory in part thanks to new members who joined up so they could vote for him, Corbyn never had widespread support among the parliamentary party. As he’d secured nearly 60% of the first preference vote, many MPs felt it was their duty to respect his mandate and serve in the shadow cabinet.

However, the divisions were always apparent. In one of the most high profile examples of that divide in the party, Benn, the former shadow foreign secretary, gave a barnstorming Commons speech in favour of British airstrikes on IS targets in Syria last December. Corbyn took the opposite position.

It’s reported Benn was almost dropped from his job, as a result.

The leader’s below-par performance campaigning for a Remain vote in Europe was the final straw for many MPs. He had been known for his eurosceptic comments in the past (he voted against a number of EU treaties) and was accused of putting in a lacklustre showing in the weeks leading up to last week’s referendum.

c4 Corbyn was criticised for his lack of enthusiasm for remaining in Europe. Source: BBC News

By contrast, former Labour prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown argued strongly in favour of remaining in the union.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg summed up the situation in the party with this analysis: 

Mr Corbyn has insisted publicly that he campaigned hard to keep the country in the EU and that he made a number of speeches around the country, and attended many campaigning events. But many shadow cabinet ministers believe his performance in the campaign has shown that he is simply not capable of leading the party. One senior figure told me: “People have just had enough and are embarrassed to be part of it.” Jeremy Corbyn’s team are adamant that he will stand again for the leadership, and they believe the party’s members would back him again.

However, former shadow cabinet members appearing on rolling news channels between yesterday and this morning insisted their constituents were telling them it was time for Corbyn to go.

Kuenssberg adds that “as the Labour Party reels from Thursday’s result, it is not clear that support [from grassroots members] will be as solid as it was … It’s possible that within days, both of our two main political parties will be looking for a new leader”.

Read: Labour deputy leader tells Corbyn he has no authority, as resignations keep coming >

Read: Enda Kenny wants an open border between the Republic and Northern Ireland >

[embed id="embed_2"]

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Read next:

COMMENTS (31)

Trending Tags