Looks like some UK Labour Party MPs have no idea about the reasons the Brexit vote succeeded. They have attacked Jeremy Corbyn for the result even though Labour voters voted to remain in almost exactly the same proportion that SNP voters to remain.
And with the tories in turmoil and the prospects of a Labour victory at the next election considerably increased what do a group of Labour MPs do? Ignite a leadership challenge against Jeremy Corbyn that has been simmering ever since he was elected.
The long-threatened coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn has begun. I reported several weeks ago that Brexit would be “the trigger” for a leadership challenge and Corbyn’s opponents have immediately taken action. Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey have submitted a motion of no confidence in the Labour leader for discussion at Monday’s PLP meeting. If accepted, it will be followed by a secret ballot of MPs on Tuesday. A spokesman for Corbyn told me it was “time for the party to unite and focus on the real issues that affect peope from today’s decision and hold the government to account on their exit negotiations.”
Any confidence motion would be purely symbolic. But Corbyn’s opponents are also “absolutely convinced” that they have the backing of the 51 MPs/MEPs needed to endorse a leadership challenger and trigger a contest. Letters are expected to be delivered to general secretary Ian McNicol from this weekend. The prospect of a new Conservative prime minister and an early general election has pushed MPs towards action. “We have to get rid of him now,” a former shadow cabinet minister told me. “If we go into an election with him as leader we’ll be reduced to 150 seats.”
The latest polls suggest that the Conservatives are barely ahead of Labour. With the SNP’s solid grip of the Scottish electorate things are neck and neck. The former shadow cabinet minister’s comments appear to be based more on prejudice than on current performance.
What the protagonists refuse to understand is that the anti intellectual anti expert brexit vote is fuelled by these careerist bubble games that politicians engage in far too often. Blaming Corbyn for the loss is crazy especially when it is clear that the Government kept Labour out of the campaign as much as possible.
People will be looking for leadership from Labour. Descending into a leadership stoush at this stage will only increase disillusionment with politics in general and Labour in particular.
As said by John McConnell in the Guardian:
These are uncertain and dangerous times for all of us. Labour must be at the forefront of putting forward an alternative to the present economic mess, which makes unity more important now than ever. 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.
Update: the general secretaries of twelve trade unions have released this statement:
The prime minister’s resignation has triggered a Tory leadership crisis. At the very time we need politicians to come together for the common good, the Tory party is plunging into a period of argument and infighting.
In the absence of a government that puts the people first Labour must unite as a source of national stability and unity. It should focus on speaking up for jobs and workers’ rights under threat, and on challenging any attempt to use the referendum result to introduce a more right-wing Tory government by the back door.
The last thing Labour needs is a manufactured leadership row of its own in the midst of this crisis and we call upon all Labour MPs not to engage in any such indulgence.