Camberwell and Peckham MP Harriet Harman has called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to stand down before the party “collapses into disarray”.
The majority of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet of MPs had announced their resignations by Tuesday morning. A vote of no confidence took place yesterday with a secret ballot held by the Parliamentary Labour Party, which saw three quarters of Labour MPs vote against Corbyn’s leadership.
Among the resignations from Corbyn’s team were Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP, Neil Coyle, who announced his departure live on Sky News on Monday.
In her full statement, released at 11.43am today, Mrs Harman, who has twice been interim leader of the Labour Party, said: “It is with great regret that I call on Jeremy Corbyn to stand down as leader of the Labour Party.
“Jeremy has many great qualities but he is not a leader. The party and the country needs a strong united Labour Opposition at this immensely challenging time. Jeremy earned the right to take up the leadership of the party with a big majority. But he has failed and he has no right or mandate to stay in office despite his failure and take the party down with him.
“Leading the party is a privilege, not a right. You earn the opportunity to lead by being elected, to lead the whole party, our voters, members, councillors and MPs. But winning the leadership election does not give you the right to continue in post if you fail.
“If Jeremy goes now, he will earn the respect and admiration of the party. If he stays he will be responsible for damage to the party on the gravest scale. No-one has the right to do that.
“Being leader of the Opposition is an immensely difficult task. Much harder than it looks. The starting point should be to support the leader and help them succeed. And that is what I have done over the past three decades, and with six leaders, through thick and thin.
“But I have no right to stand by and let our party collapse in disarray. That is what has happened under Jeremy and that has to stop. I urge Jeremy to stand down.”
A new leadership contest is expected to take place this year, less than twelve months after Corbyn swept to power in September 2015 with more than 59.5 per cent the party members’ votes.
Former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle and current deputy leader Tom Watson are expected to contend with Corbyn in a potential leadership race. However a leadership election has yet to be officially called, and no candidates have confirmed whether they intend to run.