Jeremy Corbyn faces calls to resign from Labour MPs over disastrous referendum campaign

Source tells The Independent Corbyn's leadership of the party during the campaign was a failure

Andy McSmith
Friday 24 June 2016 11:14 BST
Jeremy Corbyn is under fire for failing to persuade traditional Labour voters to back Remain
Jeremy Corbyn is under fire for failing to persuade traditional Labour voters to back Remain (Getty Images)

Jeremy Corbyn will face calls for his resignation when Labour MPs meet again on Monday.

The Labour leader – who has never commanded majority support among Labour MPs – is under fire for failing to persuade traditional Labour voters to back the Remain campaign.

Angela Smith, the maverick Labour MP for Penistone, was the first to break cover and call for Corbyn to go.

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She said: “Jeremy Corbyn has got to take responsibility. He should consider his position. He’s shown insufficient leadership.”

One prominent backbench MP who believes that Corbyn should resign has told The Independent: “I’m going to say so at the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party). No doubt it will leak after the meeting.

“I don’t think that Jeremy Corbyn is the one most to blame for this. I’m absolutely furious with the Boris Johnsons who lied, and lied and lied and people believed that eight million Turks were going to come here, they believed there would be £350 million for the NHS.

“But there was also a failure of Labour leadership. If we had campaigned better, we could have got another half a million votes for Remain.”

Tony Blair described Labour’s contribution to the Remain campaign as “pretty lukewarm”. Lord Mandelson, a former Labour Deputy Prime Minister and ally of Tony Blair, said that Mr Corbyn’s voice had been “curiously muted” during the campaign. He added: “But when he did say anything there were mixed messages.”

Mr Corbyn spent most of his political life arguing for Britain to leave the EU. He voted against signing major treaties with the EU in 1992 and 2007, but during the referendum he campaigned on a promise that if the country voted Remain, he would lead a campaign to reform it from within.

But unlike other Labour figures such as Labour’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Mr Corbyn refused to share a platform with David Cameron, a decision which cost him opportunities to reach a mass audience during the campaign. One survey suggested that half of Labour natural supporters did not know the party was in favour of Remain.

News that Labour MPs hope to use the post-referendum crisis as an opportunity to oust him will come as no surprise to the Labour leader’s office. The Spectator magazine has obtained a leaked copy of a briefing paper drawn up by Mr Corbyn’s staff setting our arguments to answers to those who say Mr Corbyn shares some of the blame the defeat of the Remain side.

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The document argues that Labour voters used the referendum to “kick a Conservative government”, and claims: "Jeremy Corbyn has showed that he is far closer to the centre of gravity of the British public than other politicians. He is now the only politician who can unite a divided country, as he can speak to both sides."

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