Labour crisis: Corbyn clings on to job after his top team launches coup... and more could go today

Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn.

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Jeremy Corbyn is clinging on to the Labour leadership this morning despite a string of senior Yorkshire MPs urging him to step down.

A series of shadow cabinet resignations and the dramatic sacking of Shadow Foreign Secretary and Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn left the party in turmoil yesterday.

Hilary Benn.

Hilary Benn.

The walkouts from Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet look likely to continue today along with the departure of a “large number” of junior ministers, Chris Bryant has warned.

The former shadow Commons leader was one of 11 MPs to quit Mr Corbyn’s top team on Sunday after the Labour leader sacked shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn.

Despite the mass walkout Mr Corbyn remained defiant, insisting he would not “betray” the Labour members who elected him last September by stepping down.

I think there’s a real risk that if we go into a general election before the end of this year with Jeremy as our leader we will lose somewhere between 30 and 60 trusted and valued colleagues.

Discussing possible further departures on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Bryant said: “I think there will be some more members of the shadow cabinet and I think there will be large numbers of the junior ministers as well.”

He said reports that up to 30 senior Labour figures may walk in the end “may well be true”.

As he resigned on Sunday, Mr Bryant warned Mr Corbyn that he was in danger of going down in history as “the man who broke the Labour Party”.

On Sunday he said: “I was elected by hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members and supporters with an overwhelming mandate for a different kind of politics.

“I regret there have been resignations today from my shadow cabinet. But I am not going to betray the trust of those who voted for me - or the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them.

“Those who want to change Labour’s leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate.”

The flurry of resignations saw the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson insist he would “discuss the way forward” with Mr Corbyn at a face to face meeting after a day of high drama at Westminster saw a third of Labour’s top team quit.

Prominent backbench MP Stephen Kinnock insisted Mr Corbyn would cost the party 60 seats at a possible snap autumn general election.

As the crisis unfolded, Mr Corbyn met shadow chancellor John McDonnell, election co-ordinator Jon Trickett, and strategy director Seamus Milne, to discuss the mass resignations.

A source close to shadow business secretary Angela Eagle, who has not resigned, said: “She is heartbroken about the position in which the party finds itself and desperately worried we’re failing to connect with communities across the country.”

A series of senior trade unionists on Labour’s ruling national executive committee rallied in support of Mr Corbyn - including Unite leader Len McCluskey and Dave Ward of the Communication Workers Union.

And leadership loser and shadow home secretary Andy Burnham refused to take part in any attempt to unseat Mr Corbyn.

However Mr Corbyn now faces a vote of no confidence which will be discussed at the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party at Westminster on Monday with a secret ballot of MPs expected on Tuesday.

The move is symbolic but a stalking horse candidate may emerge, or there could be a full blown challenge.

Mr McDonnell insisted loyalists were ready for a two month leadership battle as he warned would-be opponents that a 200,000 signature petition supporting Mr Corbyn proved how popular he remained with party members who have the ultimate say.

The possibility of a snap general election following the EU referendum result and the turmoil in the Conservative Party, combined with dismay at Mr Corbyn’s failure to campaign harder for a Remain vote, led to senior figures taking the decision to move against him.

Deputy leader Tom Watson is due to meet Mr Corbyn this morning before all of Labour’s 229 MPs are invited to discuss a vote of no confidence in the leader at what is likely to be a fractious meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) in Westminster.

Former shadow energy secretary and Don Valley MP Caroline Flint said the ballot must remain secret despite a suggestion that those around Mr Corbyn will push for a show of hands.

She said: “There should be no arm twisting on this. A show of hands would be an indication of heavy handed, quite intimidating tactics, to put pressure on.

“How can we seriously win a General Election, with a new leader of the Tory Party going to be selected, and confidently think Jeremy Corbyn is the person to do that?”

A tumultuous Sunday for Labour began with the overnight sacking of Mr Benn after he told Mr Corbyn he no longer had confidence in his leadership.

Mr Benn called for Mr Corbyn to stand down as the Labour leader faced open revolt in the wake of the EU referendum result and speculation over a snap general election.

He said: “At this absolutely critical time for this country following the referendum result the Labour Party needs strong and effective leadership to hold the Government to account as we take decisions of huge importance to the future of our country. We don’t currently have that.”

As resignations of Labour frontbenchers continued to be announced during the day, Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham’s refusal to join the revolt was one of the few pieces of positive news for Mr Corbyn.

However Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell insisted that the Labour leader was staying on. He told the BBC: “He was elected nine months ago, the biggest mandate of any political leader in our country, and he is not going anywhere.

“The people who are sovereign in our party are the members. It’s the members who elected Jeremy and he will remain. If Jeremy has to stand for another leadership election, I will chair his campaign and I think the Labour Party members will elect him again.”

Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, the Morley and Outwood MP until last year, predicted a general election will take place within the next year.

The possibility of a snap general election following the EU referendum result and the turmoil in the Conservative Party, combined with dismay at Mr Corbyn’s failure to campaign harder for a Remain vote, led to senior figures taking the decision to move against him.

Deputy leader Tom Watson is due to meet Mr Corbyn today before all of Labour’s 229 MPs are invited to discuss a vote of no confidence in the leader at what is likely to be a fractious meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) in Westminster.