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Six of Corbyn's shadow cabinet ministers have now quit

It emerged in the early hours of this morning that Corbyn had sacked shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn.

Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn (left) and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn look on in the House of Commons.
Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn (left) and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn look on in the House of Commons.
Image: PA WIRE

Updated 2.07pm

SIX LABOUR SHADOW cabinet ministers in the UK have now quit in a heave against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The BBC reports the move by some of the party’s top players is a bid to force its leader to step down after the shock Brexit vote.

It emerged in the early hours of this morning that Corbyn had sacked a key member of his cabinet – shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, who was rallying party members to resign if the Labour leader refused to stand down.

A Labour spokesman said Corbyn had “lost confidence” in Benn, the BBC reported.

The resignation of the party’s health spokesperson Heidi Alexander followed. She said she was stepping down “with a heavy heart”.

The BBC reports Ian Murray, Gloria de Piero, Lillian Greenwood, Lucy Powell and Kerry McCarthy have now also resigned. Defence spokesperson Vernon Coaker said he is considering his position

The losing camp

Corbyn had joined Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to campaign for Britain to remain part of the European Union.

Cameron was the first casualty of the losing “Remain” camp, stepping down as leader on Friday morning after it emerged that Britain had voted 52% to 48% in favour of leaving the EU.

Two Labour lawmakers have tabled a vote of no confidence against the opposition leader yesterday, reflecting the anger felt by many MPs as the results of Britain’s vote to leave the EU began to sink in.

Corbyn has faced accusations that he lost the referendum by failing to rally his party’s core working-class voter base, more than a third (37%) of whom who defied their party leadership to back a Brexit in Thursday’s historic referendum.

‘We will never be forgiven’

“This is sad news indeed and I cannot understand how Jeremy thinks it will help his worsening position with the PLP,” Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods tweeted following the sacking of Benn, using the party’s official acronym.

“The Labour Shadow Cabinet must now act to save the Party and for the sake of the country. Otherwise we will never be forgiven,” tweeted fellow party lawmaker Ben Bradshaw.

Corbyn has dismissed the vote of no confidence, but the issue will likely dominate a meeting of the parliamentary Labour party on Monday.

Any challenger would need the support of 20 percent of the party’s 229 MPs and it would then be put to party members, who propelled the veteran socialist to power only last September.

- © AFP 2016 with reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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