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News > World

Corbyn Defiant Despite Losing UK Labour Party Confidence Vote

  • Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) arrives to address a gathering of supporters demonstrating in Parliament Square, in central London.

    Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) arrives to address a gathering of supporters demonstrating in Parliament Square, in central London. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 June 2016

The no confidence vote was held in a secret ballot on Tuesday ahead of elections for prime minister after David Cameron resigned.

Britain's opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to fight to retain control of his party as Labour lawmakers voted against him in a vote of no confidence in a secret ballot of Members of Parliament (MPs) Tuesday after almost all his policy team resigned.

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Sky News reported that he lost the vote "overwhelmingly," with Sky News reporting the official breakdown as 172 votes against Corbyn to 40 in favor, with four "spoilt" ballots and 13 abstaining.

While opposition argues that he would need 50 votes to be elected as the party's candidate for prime minister, Corbyn's legal counsel maintains that he would automatically serve as the candidate, being the party's leader.

Corbyn, who maintains considerable support from the party's members as well as UK trade unions, is resisting pressure to quit after Britons voted to leave the European Union — with many fellow MPs saying Corbyn's efforts against Brexit were insufficient. Corbyn reminded MPs Tuesday that two-thirds of Labor supporters voted to remain in the EU.

"I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy," said Corbyn in a statement after the vote.

"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 rebel MP's say Corbyn failed to demonstrate that he can win over enough voters to secure power at a national election, with a snap vote a realistic prospect after David Cameron's resignation as prime minister to make way for a pro-Brexit government by October.

Corbyn's camp responded by accusing detractors of organizing a "coup."

"Stop the whispering, stop the corridor coups, stop trying to pressure an elected leader of the Labor Party to stand down without any vote or democracy," Corbyn's spokesman said after a stormy meeting between the leader and his party in parliament.

The motion is not enough on its own to trigger a leadership contest — something that requires 51 lawmakers to nominate a rival candidate.

According to Sky News, Tom Watson and Angela Eagle will meet soon to decide which of them would be best placed to challenge Jeremy Corbyn.

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Amid the drama inside parliament, more than 10,000 Corbyn supporters gathered outside the building on Monday for a noisy rally against what some of his supporters described as a right-wing coup against him.

Labor MP John McDonnell, who supported the #KeepCorbyn campaign, tweeted on Tuesday: "Please don't protest outside MPs offices. Staff feel threatened. Instead attend rallies & join party to have your say if you haven't already."

Corbyn's advisers reiterated his intention to stand for re-election in any leadership contest that his rivals might call.

"Too many of our supporters were taken in by right-wing arguments and I believe this happened, in part, because under your leadership the case to remain in the EU was made with half-hearted ambivalence rather than full-throated clarity," shadow business secretary Angela Eagle wrote in a resignation letter that she later posted on Twitter.

Eagle was one of at least 18 members of parliament to quit the shadow ministerial team in the space of two days.

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Corbyn announced a number of appointments to replace those who had quit on Sunday, promoting several members of his inner core of left-wingers to senior defense and foreign policy roles.

Corbyn was elected party leader last year on a surprise wave of grassroots enthusiasm for his left-wing agenda and promise of a new approach to politics. But his relationship with Labour's elected lawmakers has always been fragile, with many questioning whether the party could win an election on such a ticket.

A meeting in parliament on Monday evening discussed a motion of no confidence in Corbyn, which was submitted hours after the referendum result on Friday.

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