A Labour MP has said he will try to oust Jeremy Corbyn as leader if the party performs badly in next May’s devolved and local elections.
Simon Danczuk, one of Mr Corbyn’s most vocal internal critics, said he would seek to stand as a “stalking horse” to force a contest.
He said his aim would be to open the door to colleagues such as Chuka Umunna, Dan Jarvis and Emma Reynolds to mount a challenge and “give us some chance of winning the next general election”.
The Rochdale MP – who would have to secure the backing of 46 of the party’s 231 MPs – said: “If the results for Labour in May are as dire as we all fear, then, yes, I would be prepared to stand as a stalking horse against Jeremy Corbyn.”
Mr Danczuk’s intervention came as concerns were raised about the prospect of Mr Corbyn’s supporters acting to purge those on the right of the party.
Veteran MP Frank Field warned any such move could be met by a mass rebellion, with Labour MPs backing their ousted colleagues in by-elections in defiance of party rules.
Mr Field said: “There will be a large group I would hope of MPs who will, if colleagues are unfairly treated, encourage their colleagues to stand in by-elections, stand as ‘Independent Labour’ candidates and then a large number of us, including me, would go and campaign for them.”
Meanwhile, calls for a senior Labour adviser to be expelled from the party for backing a rival candidate in the general election have been dismissed by shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
The appointment of Andrew Fisher as Mr Corbyn’s policy chief has been attacked after revelations he described Ed Miliband’s front bench as “the most abject collection of complete shite” and celebrated Ed Balls’s general election defeat.
He now faces a formal complaint from Emily Benn – the granddaughter of the late Tony Benn, who was a hero of the Labour left – that he had actively supported her opponent when she stood for Labour in May’s general election in Croydon South.
However, Mr McDonnell dismissed the prospect of action against Mr Fisher.
He said: “He is a Labour Party member true and true, right the way through.”