Thursday, May 19

Brexit: Half of Labour top team set to resign



Up to half of the shadow cabinet is set to resign in a bid to force Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to step down, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg understands.

It follows Corbyn’s sacking of shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn.

Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has said that she is resigning “with a heavy heart”.

Corbyn faces a vote of no confidence over claims he was “lacklustre” during the EU referendum – but sources close to Mr Corbyn said he would stand again.On the sacking of the shadow foreign secretary overnight, a Labour source told the BBC Mr Corbyn had “lost confidence” in Mr Benn.

Benn, who is to appear on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show shortly, said there was concern about Mr Corbyn’s “leadership and his ability to win an election”.

He added: “There is no confidence to win the next election if Jeremy continues as leader.

“In a phone call to Jeremy I told him I had lost confidence in his ability to lead the party and he dismissed me.”Analysis

We expect further shadow cabinet ministers to resign in the coming hours.

Why? In essence because they felt that Jeremy Corbyn was driving with the handbrake on during the EU referendum campaign, just wasn’t putting enough into it and also, and crucially, many Labour MPs think now, given that there is going to be a new prime minister soon, there is the real prospect of a general election sooner rather than later.

And they fear, in the words of one Labour MP yesterday, that if Jeremy Corbyn is leading the party at that general election that Labour will be wiped out.

But despite all this turbulence at Westminster that doesn’t guarantee, from the perspective of MPs, that they will succeed in getting rid of him.

That’s because – and this gulf within the Labour movement is still as wide now as it’s ever been – loads of party members and Labour supporters think Jeremy Corbyn is brilliant.

The Labour party campaigned for Remain during the referendum, which saw the UK voting to leave the EU by 52% to 48% on Thursday.

Ms Alexander, who joined Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet last year, tweeted: “It is with a heavy heart that I have this morning resigned from the shadow cabinet.”

In a letter to the Labour leader, she wrote: “Our country needs an effective opposition which can hold the government to account.”

The letter continued: “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 and I believe that if we are to form the next government, a change of leadership is essential.”