POLITICS

Jeremy Corbyn Told To Quit By Margaret Hodge, Alan Johnson And Others At Parliamentary Labour Party Meeting

"Show the basic decency I know you have and step down"

27/06/2016 20:57 | Updated 29 June 2016
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Jeremy Corbyn faced a verbal onslaught from his own MPs as they urged him to quit as Labour leader for the sake of the party.

In an extraordinary meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), Corbyn came face to face with angry MPs as they demanded his resignation in the wake of the Brexit vote in the EU referendum.

They also agreed to stage a secret ballot on a motion of ‘no confidence’ in him on Tuesday, a motion that is expected to be passed by an overwhelming majority.

Veteran Labour backbencher and former minister Margaret Hodge, who proposed the motion, is now being touted by some as the possible “stalking horse” candidate who will get the required 51 nominations to trigger a leadership contest.

Former Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle is tipped as one of the few candidates who would have the union and party grassroots backing to win the leadership, either against Corbyn or another rival.

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Jeremy Corbyn arriving at the Momentum rally in Parliament Square

After yet another day of drama, which saw 20 out of 31 of his Shadow Cabinet quit over his leadership, the Islington North MP insisted he had a “large mandate” from ordinary Labour members and vowed to carry on in post.

The showdown in a hot and cramped Commons committee room saw backbenchers tell Corbyn to go now or face a leadership challenge.  Some MPs left the meeting on the edge of tears.

“That was brutal,” said one MP on leaving the packed meeting. “A bloodbath, the worst I’ve ever seen,” said another. "Like being in a pressure cooker," said Stephen Kinnock.

Former Cabinet minister Alan Johnson, who led Labour’s In campaign, picked up on the central allegation that Corbyn and his team had not done enough to stop the Brexit vote.

Johnson said: "I'll take my responsibility, you need to take yours."

In what one MP said was a speech 'laced with sarcasm', Johnson added: "You cancelled meetings. No one from your office turned up to steering meetings. I would have been really grateful if anyone in your office had rung up to tell us what we were doing wrong.."

Former Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray expressed his fury that staff in his Edinburgh constituency had been subjected to “intimidation” by leftwing Momentum protestors.

Some MPs shouted “scumbags!”, while Murray urged Corbyn to “call off the dogs” who were opposed to his politics. Corbyn refused to comment, MPs claimed.

"My staff are terrified. You stretched my loyalty to Labour party the limit," Murray added.

Corbyn started the meeting by listing what he saw as his successes since becoming leader. But he was heckled even as he did so.

When he said 'we've beaten the Tories on tax credits', one MP yelled "That was the Lords, nothing to do with you!"

When he said he had beaten the Tories on forced academies, another MP muttered "No that was the Tories themselves!"

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Margaret Hodge

After Corbyn made a statement on the EU referendum, he took questions for over an hour before Hodge and fellow MP Ann Coffey proposed their motion.

In a speech that won heartfelt applause, Hodge said “As we meet tonight, our country is in peril and our party is in crisis…

“Our people need a strong opposition, a strong Labour party to speak for them and make the case for a progressive settlement with Brussels.

“Even now Jeremy, you and your team have failed to learn the lessons from this catastrophic result. Many of you sitting here today could, indeed will, lose your seats.”

Hodge, who is seen by the plotters as immune from deselection because she will not be standing in the 2020 general election, ran Islington Council before she became an MP and knows Corbyn  well.

“I have known Jeremy for nearly 35 years – longer than many of you have lived. I shouldn't be having to say this to you in this manner tonight. Our judgement, Ann [Coffey] and mine in proposing tonight’s motion is not based on personal likes and dislikes.

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Alan Johnson

“Everyone who knows Jeremy well knows he is a decent man. But the party is and always will be bigger than one person. And this is not just about the party members who gave you a mandate a year ago.”

Hodge pointed out that “socialism is about putting the many before the few” and said that the 400,000 party members were dwarfed by the 9.3 million people who voted Labour in 2015 “and the millions more whose support we must garner” to win an election.

“I would urge you Jeremy to show the basic decency I know you have and step down. By that simple act you will have made the most important contribution you can make to the Labour Party.”

Contrary to earlier reports, Labour MP Angela Smith did not speak at the meeting, but many others did.

Allies of Corbyn said MPs interrupted him, shouted at him and jabbed their fingers at him. Liam Byrne had to be told off by PLP chair John Cryer for interrupting, only to be told by Byrne "I'll keep doing it!"

Stephen Doughty raised the issue of MPs' safety in the meeting.

One MP said that in the Commons voting lobbies later Doughty and Corbyn ally Richard Burgon clashed over the Momentum demonstrations. Doughty showed his colleague a picture of a protestor with "eradicate the right wing Blairite vermin" on it.

He challenged Burgon about it and claims that leftwing MPs were whipping up the crowd outside. Burgon became angry and started jabbing his finger at his fellow MP, pointing to the fact he had quit the frontbench earlier this year. The two MPs had to be separated by colleagues.

Whip Conor McGinn also clashed with McDonnell in the lobby, claiming he had been told the Shadow Chancellor encouraged Momentum demonstrations outside MPs' offices. McDonnell said the charge was a lie, wrongly spread on Twitter.

Chester MP Matheson told Corbyn: “I agree with your politics but you aren't a leader. I've done something you've never done: won a seat from the Tories.”

Corbyn hit back, saying that in fact he had been an agent once in a Tory seat that Labour won.

Another MP, Robert Flello, told him “Check my Twitter feed - I've never criticised you...but you've got to go!"

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John McDonnell

Helen Goodman, a former shadow minister, told Corbyn that he didn't "get it on immigration".

But she also attacked the Shadow Chancellor, who was standing behind the leader in the meeting, suggesting he was ready to betray Corbyn: "What's John McDonnell doing there, lurking and skulking like Mark Antony?"

Jess Phillips told him: "On social media I’ve been accused of taking Zionist money and other things. These are your people. Ian’s asked you to call off your dogs. Yet you won’t do anything, you won’t resign."

Jamie Reed said: "You are a critical threat to the future of the Labour party.

Iain Austin, another former minister, said after the meeting that he had told Corbyn to "search inside yourself and ask if the electorate really think you’re a PM in waiting, because I don’t think you are”.

Bridget Phillipson added: "You are not fit to be Prime Minister."

Ivan Lewis, former Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary who was ousted last year, said: "Our people are being hurt by the bedroom tax, welfare cuts, disability cuts.

"There's no secret about the way you dispensed with my services, but I’ve been loyal to you. I've not said anything either in public or in private against your. But you've got to go."

Clive Efford and Yvette Cooper both urged Corbyn to reflect on whether he really felt he was capable of being Prime Minister

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Corbyn on the Fire Brigades Union engine at the Parliament Square protest

Following the meeting, a spokesman for Corbyn said that there was no evidence of intimidation in Edinburgh and that “demonstrations are a key part of British democracy”. 

He added that Corbyn would fight on. “He's not going to give way to a corridor coup.. He believes in the democracy of the Labour party. That's what's at stake"

The spokesman then faced an angry confrontation with Labour MP John Woodcock over claims that he had been briefing against the leader in the media.

  • Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after delivering a speech during Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally outside the Houses of Parliament on June 27, 2016 in London, England. The Labour Leader has seen mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the UK Vote for Brexit. His support group, Momentum, have recorded more than 1000 new members in the same period. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
  • Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 27: British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (L) and Diane Abbot MP(R) speak at a rally in Parliament Square organised by the Momemtum organisation to keep him as Labour party leader after the EU Referendum in London, United Kingdom on June 27, 2016 (Photo by Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
  • Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn makes his way through the crowd to deliver a speech during Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally outside the Houses of Parliament on June 27, 2016 in London, England. The Labour Leader has seen mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the UK Vote for Brexit. His support group, Momentum, have recorded more than 1000 new members in the same period. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
  • JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
    Leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn (C) reaches out to a supporters as he leaves after delivering a speech outside parliament during a pro-Corbyn demonstration in central London on June 27, 2016. Britain's historic decision to leave the 28-nation bloc has sent shockwaves through the political and economic fabric of the nation. It has also fuelled fears of a break-up of the United Kingdom with Scotland eyeing a new independence poll, and created turmoil in the opposition Labour party where leader Jeremy Corbyn is battling an all-out revolt. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 27: British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) leaves a rally in Parliament Square organised by the Momemtum organisation to keep him as Labour party leader after the EU Referendum in London, United Kingdom on June 27, 2016 (Photo by Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
  • Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 27: Jeremy Corbyn supporters at a rally in Parliament Square organised by the Momemtum organisation to keep him as Labour party leader after the EU Referendum in London, United Kingdom on June 27, 2016 (Photo by Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
  • Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 27: Jeremy Corbyn supporters at a rally in Parliament Square organised by the Momemtum organisation to keep him as Labour party leader after the EU Referendum in London, United Kingdom on June 27, 2016 (Photo by Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
  • JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
    Leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn (C) arrives to deliver a speech outside parliament during a pro-Corbyn demonstration in central London on June 27, 2016. Britain's historic decision to leave the 28-nation bloc has sent shockwaves through the political and economic fabric of the nation. It has also fuelled fears of a break-up of the United Kingdom with Scotland eyeing a new independence poll, and created turmoil in the opposition Labour party where leader Jeremy Corbyn is battling an all-out revolt. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn makes his way through the crowd with Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell during Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally outside the Houses of Parliament on June 27, 2016 in London, England. The Labour Leader has seen mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the UK Vote for Brexit. His support group, Momentum, have recorded more than 1000 new members in the same period. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
  • Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 27: Jeremy Corbyn supporters at a rally in Parliament Square organised by the Momemtum organisation to keep him as Labour party leader after the EU Referendum in London, United Kingdom on June 27, 2016 (Photo by Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
  • JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
    Leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn (below right) is surrounded by supporters as he arrives to deliver a speech outside parliament during a pro-Corbyn demonstration in central London on June 27, 2016. Britain's historic decision to leave the 28-nation bloc has sent shockwaves through the political and economic fabric of the nation. It has also fuelled fears of a break-up of the United Kingdom with Scotland eyeing a new independence poll, and created turmoil in the opposition Labour party where leader Jeremy Corbyn is battling an all-out revolt. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 27: Jeremy Corbyn supporters at a rally in Parliament Square organised by the Momemtum organisation to keep him as Labour party leader after the EU Referendum in London, United Kingdom on June 27, 2016 (Photo by Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
  • JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
    Protesters hold up a placards in support of Leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn outside parliament during a pro-Corbyn demonstration in central London on June 27, 2016. Britain's historic decision to leave the 28-nation bloc has sent shockwaves through the political and economic fabric of the nation. It has also fuelled fears of a break-up of the United Kingdom with Scotland eyeing a new independence poll, and created turmoil in the opposition Labour party where leader Jeremy Corbyn is battling an all-out revolt. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
  • JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
    Protesters hold up a placards in support of Leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn outside parliament during a pro-Corbyn demonstration in central London on June 27, 2016. Britain's historic decision to leave the 28-nation bloc has sent shockwaves through the political and economic fabric of the nation. It has also fuelled fears of a break-up of the United Kingdom with Scotland eyeing a new independence poll, and created turmoil in the opposition Labour party where leader Jeremy Corbyn is battling an all-out revolt. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hold up signs during Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally outside the Houses of Parliament on June 27, 2016 in London, England. The Labour Leader has seen mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the UK Vote for Brexit. His support group, Momentum, have recorded more than 1000 new members in the same period. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
  • Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hold up signs and shout during Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally outside the Houses of Parliament on June 27, 2016 in London, England. The Labour Leader has seen mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the UK Vote for Brexit. His support group, Momentum, have recorded more than 1000 new members in the same period. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
  • Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shout and clap during Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally outside the Houses of Parliament on June 27, 2016 in London, England. The Labour Leader has seen mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the UK Vote for Brexit. His support group, Momentum, have recorded more than 1000 new members in the same period. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
  • Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: A child holds up a sign in support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally outside the Houses of Parliament on June 27, 2016 in London, England. The Labour Leader has seen mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the UK Vote for Brexit. His support group, Momentum, have recorded more than 1000 new members in the same period. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
  • JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
    A Protester wears a hat with a message written in support of Leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn outside parliament during a pro-Corbyn demonstration in central London on June 27, 2016. Britain's historic decision to leave the 28-nation bloc has sent shockwaves through the political and economic fabric of the nation. It has also fuelled fears of a break-up of the United Kingdom with Scotland eyeing a new independence poll, and created turmoil in the opposition Labour party where leader Jeremy Corbyn is battling an all-out revolt. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attend Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally outside the Houses of Parliament on June 27, 2016 in London, England. The Labour Leader has seen mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the UK Vote for Brexit. His support group, Momentum, have recorded more than 1000 new members in the same period. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
  • JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
    A Protester holds up a poster in support of Leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn outside parliament during a pro-Corbyn demonstration in central London on June 27, 2016. Britain's historic decision to leave the 28-nation bloc has sent shockwaves through the political and economic fabric of the nation. It has also fuelled fears of a break-up of the United Kingdom with Scotland eyeing a new independence poll, and created turmoil in the opposition Labour party where leader Jeremy Corbyn is battling an all-out revolt. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: A supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn holds up a sign saying that 2/3 of Labour voters backed remaining European Union during Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally outside the Houses of Parliament on June 27, 2016 in London, England. The Labour Leader has seen mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the UK Vote for Brexit. His support group, Momentum, have recorded more than 1000 new members in the same period. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
  • Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hold signs during Momentum's 'Keep Corbyn' rally outside the Houses of Parliament on June 27, 2016 in London, England. The Labour Leader has seen mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the UK Vote for Brexit. His support group, Momentum, have recorded more than 1000 new members in the same period. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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