In the latest twist in this unpredictable summer of British politics, the embattled leader of the country’s opposition Labour Party is finally to face a formal leadership challenge.
Jeremy Corbyn, the far-left member of parliament (MP) who won the party’s leadership in a popular revolution last year, will face a challenge by fellow MP Angela Eagle after talks between the party’s parliamentary wing and its labour union backers collapsed Saturday.
Eagle, who served as shadow business secretary until resigning her position in late June, said she would announce her bid on Monday, with a pledge to “explain my vision for the country and the difference a strong Labour Party can make,” the Guardian reports.
Corbyn lost the support of his parliamentary colleagues after British voters elected to leave the European Union. Over a dozen of his shadow cabinet resigned their posts alongside Eagle, and some 80% of his fellow MPs backed a motion of no confidence in his leadership on June 28, after he was perceived to have offered only lukewarm support for the campaign to remain within the European Union.
But Corbyn refused to resign, claiming a popular mandate from the Labour Party members who had voted him into office last year. The party leader’s supporters — made up largely of the party’s grassroots members, and the labor unions who help fund Labour — have been extremely vocal in support of his staying put.
Despite his popularity with the grassroots, senior Labour party figures have been equally determined to ensure Corbyn leaves office, convinced he has neither the national support nor the leadership skills to mount a successful election campaign.
Neil Kinnock, who led the party in the 1980s, was just the latest to insist Corbyn resign for the good of the party. Corbyn’s colleagues, he said Friday, “have made it clear that he cannot give the leadership that is vital to gain credibility and national appeal for our party.”
Although deputy leader Tom Watson attempted to bring together party chiefs with labor union heads to come to a peaceful resolution to the impasse, he admitted Saturday that he had failed. Eagle announced her leadership bid soon after.
It’s just the latest squall in what has been a tempestuous summer for British politics. Following the country’s vote to leave the European Union against the advice of both major political parties, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to resign.
On Thursday, Home Secretary Theresa May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom emerged as the two contenders to replace Cameron — meaning the next Prime Minister will be a woman.
Should Eagle be successful in her bid to unseat Corbyn, the person sitting opposite them in the House of Commons could be a woman too.