Kezia Dugdale calls on Corbyn to resign after no confidence vote

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has lost the confidence of his MPs, according to reports.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has lost the confidence of his MPs, according to reports.
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Scottish Labour chief Kezia Dugdale has joined the mounting calls for Jeremy Corbyn to stand down as leader of the UK party.

Mr Corbyn is now facing a leadership contest after MPs passed a no confidence motion by 172 votes to 40 at Westminster yesterday.

Deputy leader Tom Watson and Angela Eagle are the frontrunners to emerge as a “unity” candidate for MPs to rally round as an alternative to the left-winger.

Ms Dugdale last night became the most senior elected Labour official to call on Mr Corbyn to quit amid disquiet over his performance during the referendum.

“If the overwhelming majority of Labour MSPs did not support my leadership, I would not be able to do this job effectively,” she said.

“Jeremy and I were elected leader of the UK and Scottish parties at similar times with similar mandates. We both have a job of uniting our parliamentary party to be an effective opposition and ultimately a party of government.

“I would not be able to do my job if I did not have the support of the parliamentary party, regardless of the mandate that members give me. Jeremy should reflect on the outcome of the PLP vote but I would not carry on in similar circumstances.”

Labour peer Lord Foulkes last night warned that no Scottish MP would serve as shadow Scottish Secretary after the Edinburgh MP Ian Murray quit the role at the weekend.

A party leadership contest is now inevitable. Mr Corbyn suffered another day of frontbench resignations yesterday with more than 40 Labour MPS having now stepped down and called on the leader to resign.

It has left Labour without a shadow Scottish Secretary after Ian Murray – the party’s only MP – stepped down.

But Mr Corbyn remained defiant last night.

“I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 per cent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning.

“Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy,” he said.

“We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.”

The Labour leader said the vote by the Parliamentary Labour Party had no “constitutional legitimacy” under party rules.

Labour grandees last night tore into Mr Corbyn.

Former home secretary David Blunkett said last night; “With this leader we will be annihilated in a general election – it’s a fact.”

Former foreign secretary Jack Straw said Mr Corbyn’s position was “wholly untenable” and the leadership crisis could be the worst in Labour’s history.

Mr Corbyn’s determination to fight on – despite the vote and the walk-out of dozens of shadow ministers – means the Labour rebels will have to mount a formal leadership challenge if they want to oust him. Mr Watson and Ms Eagle – who quit the shadow cabinet on Monday – were last night taking soundings about running.

Mr Corbyn’s supporters are confident that he will win out in a ballot of grassroots activists who swept him to the leadership last year.

There are questions whether he will even be able to stand after just 40 MPs backed him in yesterday’s vote of confidence. Leadership candidates need the nomination of 50 MPs. Mr Corbyn’s camp say he will automatically be on the ballot paper as the incumbent party leader.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The extraordinary behaviour of Labour MPs has achieved nothing beyond diverting attention from a Tory government in crisis.

“If anyone wants to change the Labour leadership, they must do it openly and democratically through an election, not through resignations and pointless posturing.”

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