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Jeremy Corbyn has lost a vote of no confidence to lead his party

His own MPs voted by a margin of 40 to 172 against him.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives to speak in Parliament Square yesterday.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives to speak in Parliament Square yesterday.
Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

LABOUR LEADER JEREMY Corbyn has lost a vote of no confidence.

The motion has been passed by a margin of 40 to 172, and follows the resignation of 20 members of his shadow cabinet.

The vote is non-binding, and Corbyn has declared his intention to remain in position despite of it.

Infighting within the British Labour party has exploded since the Brexit referendum last Thursday, with senior members blaming the leadership for failing to connect with Labour voters.

In recent days Corbyn has taken a bullish stance, stating his intention to re-contest the leadership of the party were it to go to a vote from the members.

Party disintegration 

The resignations started piling in after Corbyn sacked his foreign affairs spokesperson Hilary Benn on Saturday.

The veteran socialist, widely blamed for failing to rally the party’s core working-class vote base to support the “Remain” campaign, said the country was divided after last Thursday’s shock vote.

But he insisted he would stand again as leader if another contest was called.

Speaking yesterday, Corbyn said he would not betray the trust of the party members who elected him only last September, and vowed to “reshape” his shadow cabinet.

“Don’t let the media divide us, don’t let those people who wish us ill divide us, stay together, strong and united for the kind of world we want to live in,” he told a cheering rally of supporters outside parliament.

Labour MP resignations The Momentum campaign group holds a Keep Corbyn demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament in London, at the same time as the Parliamentary Labour Party is due to meet inside. Source: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The gathering of about 2,000 of the young grassroots activists brandished placards with slogans such as “Corbyn In, Tories Out”.

No confidence

The drama within the opposition Labour party broke over the weekend with the sacking of foreign affairs spokesman Hilary Benn, who had told Corbyn he did not have confidence in his leadership.

“He’s a good and decent man but he is not a leader, and that’s the problem,” Benn told the BBC.

Benn’s departure triggered a wave of resignations, hour by hour, with many of his team publishing letters of criticism on Twitter.

“As much as I respect you as a man of principle, I do not believe you have the capacity to shape the answers our country is demanding,” wrote shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander.

“It’s just not working,” a tearful shadow business secretary Angela Eagle told the BBC.

The leadership of the party could now be put to its membership, with the 172 votes against surpassing the 20% of the party’s 229 MPs needed to trigger a vote.

Critics say Corbyn – who for decades had expressed eurosceptic views – could have done more to sway voters ahead of last Thursday’s referendum.

Polling showed one third of Labour voters chose to leave the European Union in Thursday’s historic vote, against the advice of the majority of the party’s MPs and the leadership.

Conservative leader

Meanwhile, the UK’s dominant Conservative Party is also reeling from the result of the referendum vote and leader David Cameron’s subsequent resignation.

In the latest development, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that he was “seriously considering” launching a bid to be the next leader of the party.

“I am seriously considering it. Nominations close on Thursday lunchtime,” Hunt said.

EU referendum File photo of Jeremy Hunt. Source: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Hunt – who campaigned to stay in the EU – said that the focus needed to be on what Britain would do next as a country.

“But what I want to do now is start making an argument as to what we do next as a country. This is a big, big change and if we get it right we can succeed,” he said.

Hunt has also called for another referendum to be held in the future on the UK’s membership.

Writing in the Telegraph, Hunt called on government to delay invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would set into irreversible motion the UK leaving the EU.

Instead, he said that a deal should now be negotiated regarding the UK’s status and again put before the electorate in the form of a referendum or a general election.

Hunt’s statement of intent comes as another key party figure – the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne – declared that he would not run for leader.

Former London mayor Boris Johnson and interior minister Theresa May are still considered to be the front-runners in the leadership race.

But support for May is higher than for Johnson, on 31% versus 24% in a YouGov poll, according to the Times.

Johnson was a leading campaigner for the “Leave” side. May backed “Remain” but did not play a prominent role in the campaign.

- © AFP 2016 with reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald and Michael Sheils McNamee

Read: EU leaders are looking for a quick divorce from David Cameron

Read: ‘I’m still alive anyway’ jokes Queen Elizabeth on visit to Northern Ireland

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