• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Brexit Vote Setting Off Infighting In Britain’s Labour Party

The outcome of the Brexit vote continues to reverberate throughout British politics. Already, of course, we’ve seen the outcome of the vote bring an abrupt and somewhat unexpected end to David Cameron’s time as Prime Minister, a move that could sweep pro-Brexit MP Boris Johnson into Downing Street. Now, there are signs that the vote is also causing discord inside the opposition Labour Party:

LONDON — It’s not just Britain’s ruling Conservative Party that is in turmoil after the nation voted last week to quit the European Union. The opposition Labour Party is restive, too, with festering criticism of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, coming to the surface.

Early Sunday, Mr. Corbyn abruptly fired his shadow foreign secretary — the party’s spokesman on foreign affairs — to try to head off an internal coup begun by some Labour members of Parliament disappointed with Mr. Corbyn’s lackluster campaign to keep Britain in the bloc.

The shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, telephoned Mr. Corbyn to say that he and other key legislators had lost confidence in Mr. Corbyn to lead the party to victory in the next election, which could be later this year. Mr. Corbyn ended the call by firing him, Mr. Benn told the British news agency The Press Association on Sunday.

“Following the result of the E.U. referendum, we need strong and effective leadership of the Labour Party that is capable of winning public support,” Mr. Benn said. “In a phone call to Jeremy I told him I had lost confidence in his ability to lead the party and he dismissed me.”

Later Sunday morning, Heidi Alexander, who speaks for the party on health issues, stepped down. Up to half the shadow cabinet is considering resignation, according to the BBC. Mr. Corbyn faces a vote of confidence, which was called for on Friday, after the referendum, by two lower-ranking Labour legislators.

Mr. Corbyn and his allies are reported to be organizing demonstrations in his support. On Sunday morning, his office issued a terse statement: “There will be no resignation of a democratically elected leader with a strong mandate from the membership.”

In its Sunday editions, The Observer reported that Mr. Benn was trying to organize a serious move to unseat Mr. Corbyn because the political landscape had changed with the referendum vote and the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron.

A new Conservative leader, elected by the party, would become prime minister in the fall and would probably try to call a general election to secure a new mandate. In the view of Mr. Benn and numerous other Labour legislators who oppose their leader, Mr. Corbyn would lead Labour to a disastrous defeat.

Mr. Corbyn became leader after Labour’s loss to Mr. Cameron in the May 2015 general election and the resignation of Ed Miliband. A man of the hard left, Mr. Corbyn was opposed by the parliamentary party as he rose. Still, he was elected under new party rules that said anyone could register to vote by paying 3 pounds, whether that person was a member of the Labour Party or not.

Even before the Brexit vote, it was already known that the Conservative Party would likely be headed into the next General Election with a new leader due to David Cameron’s announcement that he would not stand for re-election at the next General Election. In part because of that, the election of Corbyn as Labour Party leader came with controversy from the start, largely due to the perception by many inside the party that Corbyn was too far to the left to make for an effective challenger to whomever would be leading the Conservative Party at the next election. Because of this, it is likely that there would have been a leadership fight inside both parties at some point over the next five years. What nobody anticipated, though, is that these fights would have to happen so quickly after the last General Election. Ordinarily, the next General Election would not take place until 2020, but it’s widely expected that a new Conservative Prime Minister would call for a ‘snap’ election at some earlier point in order to claim a mandate of their own. Realizing this, it seems apparent that Corbyn’s foes inside the Labour Party are seeking to undermine him in order to lay the ground for leadership elections of their own in the near future. All because of the outcome of the Brexit vote.

 

Related Posts:

  • None Found

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. JKB says:

    I came across this interesting perspective on Brexit by Peter Hitchens. He points out that what they need are new parties with modern alignments. Not unlike what we need in the US.

    I did find the groups that found common cause for Brexit to be a bit similar to those we see moving toward Trump.

    It has brought together two groups who had never really met before. The first group are the social and moral conservatives, whose views the Blairised Tory Party despised, while it still relied on their money and their votes. The second are the working-class families whose votes the Blairised Labour Party relied on, while it dismissed and ignored their concerns.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Tillman says:

    Realizing this, it seems apparent that Corbyn’s foes inside the Labour Party are seeking to undermine him in order to lay the ground for leadership elections of their own in the near future. All because of the outcome of the Brexit vote.

    Which is puzzling because if anything Corbyn succeeded where Cameron failed. Corbyn got (or was around when, pick one) almost two-thirds of Labour to side with Remain while Cameron couldn’t even get a majority of his own party. The shadow ministers in revolt are taking advantage of anti-establishment fervor, which is hilarious as they are the establishment that was rocked by Corbyn’s ascent.

    Nothing like blaming pinkos for everything wrong in the world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Hal_10000 says:

    Well, so at least one good thing could come out of the Brexit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @Tillman: Hippie punching is is an international grand old tradition.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Hal_10000: On the other hand, the Conservative Party seems poised to elect the man whose nickname is “the Buffoon of London.” I would think that the nickname would work against him. Then again, I thought that what was common knowledge about Trump would work against him, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. PD Shaw says:

    @Tillman: “Which is puzzling because if anything Corbyn succeeded where Cameron failed. Corbyn got (or was around when, pick one) almost two-thirds of Labour to side with Remain while Cameron couldn’t even get a majority of his own party. ”

    What your link is analyzing is the vote on the referendum based upon how people voted in the 2015 elections. The problem for Labour in the 2015 elections were a nadir for Labour; there were mass defections by traditional constituencies to UKIP. If the same analysis were done based upon the vote in 2010 elections, it would have shown far more Labour votes for Leave.

    I think the complaint about Corbyn is more fundamentally about how the referendum shows that he’s not building the party back-up. There may not have been a lot of good answers, Brexit might reduce immigration as an economic threat and reduce the attraction of UKIP, but if Scotland departs it may be a wash.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. grumpy realist says:

    Article on effects of Brexit on the financial sector.

    What none of the politicians want to admit is uncertainty doesn’t mean that the other side is going to sit around and wait until you make up what passes for your mind. They’re far more likely to put in hedges—they could expand their business in Britain, but it’s much safer to expand over in their office in Bonn. So the business in London is kept going, but all the new interest, new projects, and new growth are over in Switzerland.

    By the time Britain decides to go ahead and officially apply to leave the EU, all the networks may have already rerouted themselves. And if they decide to NOT leave–it already may be too late.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Lounsbury says:

    @Tillman:
    No it is not puzzling. If one saw Corby speaking it was pretty damned lukewarm. “Succeeded” at the turnout and the percentage in this case was an undershoot and an obvious failure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. grumpy realist says:

    Farage’s diplomatic face is as about as bad as Trump’s.

    Yup, that’ll really help you negotiate what you want–insult everyone in the chamber and brag about your success. That’ll really convince people to sit down at the negotiating table with you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0