LONDON — The Labour party, Britain’s opposition, has lost 26,000 members since mid-2016, according to leaked data cited by The Times newspaper.
The number of dropped memberships was more than the total of the previous six years combined, cutting the party’s total membership to 528,180 from a 554,000 peak last July.
The news appears to be a sign that party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity among Labour members is waning.
Corbyn is historically unpopular with the general electorate, but his left-wing policies saw Labour members elect him as leader twice in September 2015 and September 2016. Labour became the largest left-wing party in Europe by membership when 210,000 joined last year.
However, his leadership has come under increased pressure in recent weeks after Labour surrendered the once-safe seat of Copeland, Cumbria, to the Conservatives in a February by-election, which Labour had held for the previous 80 years.
Senior Labour figures told the Times that “the tide is turning.”
Lord Watts, a former chair of the parliamentary Labour party, said: “I imagine people are losing heart because they can see the polls, they’re talking to their neighbours and people they work with, and are coming to the conclusion Labour is not doing well and, at this point, not convincing the public.”
Corbyn is now odds-on to be replaced as Labour leader before the next general election in 2020, but deputy leader Tom Watson has insisted that now “is not the time” for a third leadership election in as many years.
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