What Next for the Labour Party?

29/06/2016 13:06 | Updated 29 June 2016

It's the million voter question. But one that I doubt I'll be able to answer - especially given that the Labour Party itself is failing to be able to answer it, as Jeremy Corbyn has today announced that he will not resign even following the loss of a vote of confidence by 172 votes to 40.

At this point, the Labour Party has arrived at a crossroads and has very limited choices. The first of these (and definitely the most unlikely), would be for the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) to back off and rally around the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. This is almost laughably unrealistic. After he stood 10 months ago and won the leadership election following the party's failure in the 2015 General Election, a number of party key players including Yvette Cooper and Chuka Umunna, both former senior shadow cabinet members stepped down and said they would not serve under Jeremy Corbyn. This was a rocky start to what would lead to a PLP struggling to hide its divisions, culminating in today's result - which proves that the PLP is far from united around Corbyn.

Another choice could be that Jeremy Corbyn could resign. He could simply put his hands up and say that his current situation of leadership is untenable, and concede his leadership sparking a full leadership election (without him standing) for the leadership. However, at the current time, this does not seem like the probable course of events with his statement released just after the result saying that his resignation would "betray" the members who elected him. Despite this, he is yet (at the time of writing) to hold a press conference or make a statement himself so we are unaware as to what his next moves will be. However, it is apparent that his position will not soon be vacant unless he is forced out.

The third and the most probable course of action will be a direct leadership challenge to Jeremy Corbyn. Around 50 MPs' signatures would be required to form the direct challenge and trigger a leadership election in the party. For this kind of leadership challenge to be successful, and actually, bring down the Corbyn administration, a single challenging candidate would be preferable in order to not split the vote, and thus have a chance of bringing down Mr Corbyn, who is popular among grassroots Labour party members. The question further remains, regarding whether Corbyn will get onto the ballot paper automatically or after the backing of 30 MPs, with internal party constitutional convention being brandished and disagreed over constantly.

The problem, however, remains to be that this single unifying candidate cannot be found, with internal Labour party disagreements marring the process. Some groups of the party would like Tom Watson to stand for the leadership - given that he already has the support of the membership given his achievement of Deputy Leader in the same elections last year. However, other members criticise his apparent lack of passion, saying that he too should have done more to help Labour win the Remain campaign. Other groups have called for Yvette Cooper to be the chosen candidate with her passion for equal rights being a vote winner. Dan Jarvis, Chuka Umunna, and Andy Burnham are all potential candidates - however a single candidate will need to emerge in the next 24 hours with unilateral backing from the 172, a plan for the Labour party they would create, and vision for Britain's future - particularly with regard to the EU.

Whatever party that comes out of the next few months will need to be strong, united and ready to take on the challenge of EU renegotiations, and in fact a probable general election before the end of the year. If the leadership cannot manage that, the labour party will be at serious risk of splitting - and what future will that leave Britain with?