Labour MPs send texts to Lib Dem leader Tim Farron after 'deeply distressing' Jeremy Corbyn victory

New Labour leader faces threat of defections as Lib Dems look to capitalise on discontent among Labour ranks

Matt Dathan
Thursday 17 September 2015 15:42
Comments
Newly elected Lib Dem leader Tim Farron told supporters at a rally in north London: "Revival is in our grasp. Have hope. Have courage. Have belief."
Newly elected Lib Dem leader Tim Farron told supporters at a rally in north London: "Revival is in our grasp. Have hope. Have courage. Have belief."

High profile Labour MPs who feel "deeply distressed" by Jeremy Corbyn's victory have got in contact with Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, intensifying speculation that MPs will defect from the party.

Mr Farron revealed he had received "various unsolicited texts" from Labour MPs - including well-known figures - since Mr Corbyn's landslide election was announced on Saturday.

He openly invited more of the party's MPs to "have conversations with me", explaining how he felt like an "agony aunt" offering comfort to Labour figures who "don't recognise their party anymore".

The revelations add more pressure to Mr Corbyn after a rocky first few days as Labour leader and comes after Assem Allam, one of the party's biggest donors, offered to fund MPs who want to defect from the party, describing the victory for the hard-left MP as the "beginning of the end".

Jeremy Corbyn has had a rocky start as Labour leader and now faces the prospect of MPs defecting from party

Jack Straw, the former Labour cabinet member, said Mr Corbyn's victory will benefit the Liberal Democrats. "I did say a few weeks ago that this election was having the effect of Lazarus being raised from the dead for the Liberal candidate," he told the World at One. "And I suspect that that may be the case."

Mr Farron, speaking to the Evening Standard, said: “I’ve had various unsolicited texts, some of them over the weekend, where I felt like I was being an agony aunt rather than anything else.

“People who have been members of the [Labour] party for as long as I’ve been a member of mine who feel that they don’t recognise their party anymore and feel deeply distressed.”

Asked if those contacting him included MPs in Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet, Mr Farron said: "I couldn’t possibly comment. The bottom line is, ... people in the Labour party need to understand they can have conversations with me, which may or may not be conclusive, which will remain totally between me and them.

“I’ve had some conversations with people ... over the phone," he added.

Some Blairite figures might even defect to the Conservative party, the BBC revealed yesterday.

Its economics editor Robert Peston said a number of Blairite figures could be persuaded to cross the floor to the Conservatives because of their close personal relationship with George Osborne, the Chancellor.

Mr Corbyn has suffered a series of setbacks and internal party rows in his first five days as leader, but an assured performance at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday managed to steady the ship.

It gave him some breathing space after being widely condemned - even from figures in his own front bench - for refusing to sing the national anthem at a memorial event on Tuesday.

He has now said he will sing God Save the Queen at future events.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in