Jeremy Corbyn faces chaos as his MPs say they won’t stand

19 Apr

Jeremy Corbyn faces losing a third of his MPs in a general election catastrophe – but is still picking fights with moderates for control of the Labour Party.

Polls show the veteran left-winger is headed for disaster in the ballot being called by Theresa May for June 8 – with around 70 seats forecast to be surrendered.

The exodus from the party gathered pace after the PM’s announcement with grandee Alan Johnson saying he will not stand again in Hull West and Hessle.

Corbyn critic Tom Blenkinsop has also said he will not run in the national vote.

But despite the growing turmoil Mr Corbyn is set to escalate tensions with moderate MPs by demanding they face re-selection.

Jeremy Corbyn put on a brave face as he met supporters in Birmingham, but two of his MPs have already said they will not stand at the snap election called by Theresa May today

Jeremy Corbyn put on a brave face as he met supporters in Birmingham, but two of his MPs have already said they will not stand at the snap election called by Theresa May today

Jeremy Corbyn put on a brave face as he met supporters in Birmingham, but two of his MPs have already said they will not stand at the snap election called by Theresa May today

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South, announced he would not be standing for re-election.

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South, announced he would not be standing for re-election.

Labour heavyweight Alan Johnson will also not seek re-election

Labour heavyweight Alan Johnson will also not seek re-election

Labour MP and Corbyn critic Tom Blenkinsop (left) announced he would not be standing for re-election. Labour heavyweight Alan Johnson will also not seek re-election

Normal practice would be for sitting MPs to be automatically adopted when an election is called at such short notice.  

But the leader is expected to press for all the politicians to go through a trigger ballot process, which would mean they would need more than 50 per cent of votes in their local party.

The issue could go before Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) as early as tomorrow. 

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Mr Blenkinsop said ‘irreconcilable differences’ with Mr Corbyn’s team meant he would not seek re-election, while Mr Johnson told party members he wanted to ‘do other things with my life’.

Mr Johnson has previously said Mr Corbyn is ‘not up to the job’ of being leader of the opposition and his decision not to stand is a further blow to the party. 

As a widely-admired politician, who has often been encouraged to run for the party’s leadership, he was one of the few senior figures in the party who maintained a broad appeal.

The former Home Secretary Mr Johnson told local Labour party members: ‘I’ve decided that going now will give me the opportunity to do other things with my life and is therefore in the best interests of me and my family. I also think it’s best for the Party.’

Speaking of his 20 years as MP for West Hull, he said: ‘Every day has been a privilege and a pleasure but it can’t go on for ever and the electoral cycle means that each incumbent has to think again about what’s best for them, the constituency and the Party.’

Mr Blenkinsop said in a statement today: ‘I have made no secret about my significant and irreconcilable differences with the current Labour leadership.

‘It is because of these differences I feel I cannot in good faith stand as the Labour candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.’

Two surveys in recent days have shown the Tories more than 20 points ahead of Labour, revealing the record breaking hole in to which leader Mr Corbyn has dragged his party. 

That would equate to a majority of around 140 for Mrs May – with Labour reduced from its current 229 MPs to around 160. 

But Mr Corbyn said he welcomed the election, meaning the government’s call for the election will be backed by Parliament tomorrow.

Mr Corbyn faces a headache in the polls, some of which show him more than 20 points behind

Mr Corbyn faces a headache in the polls, some of which show him more than 20 points behind

Mr Corbyn faces a headache in the polls, some of which show him more than 20 points behind

Two surveys in recent days have shown the Tories more than 20 points ahead of Labour, revealing the record breaking hole in to which Mr Corbyn has dragged his party

Two surveys in recent days have shown the Tories more than 20 points ahead of Labour, revealing the record breaking hole in to which Mr Corbyn has dragged his party

Two surveys in recent days have shown the Tories more than 20 points ahead of Labour, revealing the record breaking hole in to which Mr Corbyn has dragged his party

In a statement, Mr Corbyn said: ‘I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.’

He added: ‘Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.

‘In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain.’

In an interview with Sky News, he was asked if he actually wanted to win the election, and responded that he did, saying: ‘We are campaigning to win this election, this is the only question now.’

Theresa May today announced a general election on June 8

Theresa May today announced a general election on June 8

Mr Corbyn was on Good Morning Britain today just hours before Mrs May’s announcement

After making a statement following Mrs May's announcement, he later visited Birmingham

After making a statement following Mrs May's announcement, he later visited Birmingham

After making a statement following Mrs May’s announcement, he later visited Birmingham

The election will be terrifying for Labour MPs in marginal seats, with polls suggested they could lose their job in less than two months. 

Jeremy Corbyn’s full response to today’s election announcement

‘I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.

‘Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.

‘In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain.’ 

David Morris, Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, predicted Labour could lose 100 seats.

Speaking earlier this morning, before the election was called, Mr Corbyn insisted his party’s position would improve, saying: ‘I think the issue will get out there more and more, people will begin to understand that we don’t have to go through these levels of austerity in Britain, we don’t have to have these levels of inequality in Britain.

‘I think people will begin to see that actually what we are saying makes a lot of credible sense.’

Before the announcement, Mr Corbyn appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, announcing a new carers’ allowance and insisted exposure for his policies would turn around his dire standing in the polls.

He clashed with the show’s host Piers Morgan and demanded the presenter ask him about policy rather than his own popularity.

Mr Corbyn dismissed as ‘nonsense’ a comparison between him and beleaguered Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

GMB host Piers Morgan, centre, branded the Mr Corbyn ‘oblivious to reality’ after the tetchy clash on the ITV sofa 

Morgan, also an Arsenal fan, said Wenger refused to acknowledge mistakes, like Mr Corbyn.

The Labour leader said: ‘I’m not going to go into any big public self analysis. What I will say is of course I reflect on issues, I reflect on decisions we’ve made.’

Mr Corbyn was all smiles as he arrived at ITV studios this morning. Just hours later he was forced to react to plans for a general election

Mr Corbyn was all smiles as he arrived at ITV studios this morning. Just hours later he was forced to react to plans for a general election

Mr Corbyn was all smiles as he arrived at ITV studios this morning. Just hours later he was forced to react to plans for a general election

He added: ‘I reflect on all of this, all the time. I want the party to be united around these policies. I think you will find the vast majority of Labour members would support these policies.

‘Labour voters would support these policies and I think the vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party.’

Pressed to give one mistake he had made, Mr Corbyn joked: ‘I can’t give you a mistake this morning. There are too many.’

After the interview Morgan said on Twitter: ‘I can’t help liking @jeremycorbyn. Like Wenger, a decent principled man – but seems oblivious to reality.’

Under Labour’s newly-announced plans, Conservative cuts to inheritance tax would be scrapped to pay for the 17% hike in carer’s allowance.

Weekly payments would rise from £62.70 a week to £73.10, which would bring the rate into line with jobseeker’s allowance.

Mr Corbyn’s policy drive comes as recent polling on who would be the best prime minister saw him slump to 14 per cent among all voters and also follows criticism by Labour MP Neil Coyle, who said a complaint made about him by the Islington North MP’s office was ‘absurd’.  

The Labour leader was compared to beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger today 

The Labour leader was compared to beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger today 

The Labour leader was compared to beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger today 

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