The radical left-wing leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn wrote a letter to his MPs last night to tell them he does not support a bombing in Syria — and now it has led to calls for his resignation.
After a disastrous night for Britain’s opposition, two Labour MPs went on the radio this morning to question the leadership of Corbyn, which then led to calls for him to step down from his position.
The letter came as a huge surprise. Many members of Labour’s shadow cabinet, including foreign secretary Hilary Benn, are in favour of taking military action in Syria. They were told by Corbyn on Monday that the Labour Party’s position on Syria would be a “collective decision,” and they are furious that Corbyn bypassed everyone by sending the letter.
While no cabinet minister has gone as far as to call for their leader to resign, backbench MPs are starting to publicly lambaste their leader.
John Spellar, the Labour MP for Warley was asked on BBC 5 Live Breakfast this morning what he thought about Corbyn’s decision to send the letter. He didn’t hold back, likening Corbyn the “Fuhrer,” accusing him of carrying out a coup, and explicitly calling on him to resign.
You can read his outburst below:
Sorry, we’re not a one man one vote once. You know, we elect the Fuhrer and he therefore decides everything. We have a shadow cabinet, we have collective responsibility, this is not the way to go about things. What we are seeing here is an attempted coup by Jeremy Corbyn and the people around him in the bunker, trying to take over the party. It’s unacceptable…
How does Jeremy Corbyn and his small group of tiny Trots in the bunker think that they have got the unique view on it all? It’s absolutely right for him to put that view in the shadow cabinet, it’s right for them to discuss it, they thought that they were going away to resume that discussion Monday, he’s now trying to prempt that and whip up a storm inside the party. It is as I say, unacceptable. Certainly, by the way, they should not resign, they should hold on into those place. If anyone should resign after this incident, it should be Jeremy Corbyn.
Spellar wasn’t the only one to vent his anger this morning. The Labour MP for Slough Fiona MacTaggart also took to the airwaves; she didn’t explicitly call on Corbyn to resign, but did say it would be a “good thing” if he did. Here’s what she said to BBC Radio Berkshire this morning.
BBC: People who support him say Jeremy Corbyn is on the side of Labour members and Labour activists, the people who put him in the job. But he doesn’t appear to be on the same side in this conversation as his shadow cabinet.
MacTaggart: No he doesn’t, and that’s because Jeremy Corbyn never expected to be leader of the party. His long service in Parliament hasn’t been service as someone who imagines themselves leading the party and he hasn’t got a strategy to lead the party from where it needs to be, and the people, the country can see that.
BBC: Right, that’s a pretty damning incitement of your own leader.
MacTaggart: It is.
BBC: What needs to happen then, within Labour Fiona, because it sounds like you’re saying that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is unsustainable.
MacTaggart: I think it probably is unattainable… The Conservative Party is good at getting rid of leaders who they can see aren’t going to lead the Party to victory. My Party isn’t.
BBC: Do you think that Jeremy Corbyn should read the runes and say, you know what, I never really wanted to be leader of the party, I’ve ended up leader of the party, it’s not working out, it’s over.
MacTaggart: I think that would be a sensible strategy.
There’s been a huge amount of tension brewing under the surface of the Labour Party and it looks like Corbyn’s letter was the last straw for many MPs. We should expect things to get worse for the party before they get better, with MPs either backing Corbyn, who still has the support of the party membership, or backing members of the shadow cabinet who feel that they are being ignored by their leader.
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