'Dozens of Labour MPs could quit party' if Rebecca Long-Bailey wins leadership race
Dozens of Labour MPs could quit the party if Rebecca Long-Bailey wins the leadership race, it is being reported.
As many as up to 50 parliamentarians could sit as independents or leave Westminster altogether rather than serve under the shadow business secretary, also dubbed the “continuity Corbyn” candidate.
An MP speaking anonymously to HuffPost estimated between 30 to 50 colleagues would stage a walkout and that she would “definitely go”.
Another said 35 would leave the party, adding: “The Labour Party would be sticking two fingers up to the public to stay on the same course as set by Corbynism. MPs won’t go through that again and the public won’t stand for it.”
Backbencher Neil Coyle believed around a dozen MPs would sever their ties as he condemned continuity Corbyn as the “death knell for Labour”
“Division, factionalism and introspection will continue. Favouritism and bullying will continue. Anti-Semitism will continue. Failure in elections will continue,” he said.
“More MPs and others will leave. The frontbench will continue to fail to reflect members. It’s a recipe for disaster.”
Ms Long-Bailey has previously been endorsed by key figures within the party such as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and party chairman Ian Lavery as best for the top job.
During her campaign for the Labour crown the Salford and Eccles MP rated Jeremy Corbyn a “ten out of ten” in his leadership despite the devastating election defeat in December and ongoing criticism of handling anti-semitism within the party.
Moderate members of the Labour movement are also said to have been put off by Ms Long-Bailey’s call for MPs to fight to stay on as party candidates for each upcoming general election.
Meanwhile MP Wes Streeting said he was sceptical of a Labour split, adding: “People should be campaigning to win, not preparing to fail.”
And a source close to Ms Long-Bailey said: “Rebecca has committed to appointing a shadow cabinet that draws on the experience of all parts of the Labour Party, and she is committed to all Labour MPs unifying behind a message that can repay the hard work of party activists and win the next general election.”
The comments come as the candidate battling against Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy in the final round of the contest told a London hustings she could not “accept dissent” in the party.
According to the Sun, she told an audience in Lewisham: “We know the damage it causes on our chances to succeed, so we need to have everybody pulling together.
“I’d like that to happen nicely and for everybody to want to do that.
“I think if people aren’t able to move on, that’s when obviously I’ll have to become a bit more ruthless.”
The fourth candidate in the race, Emily Thornberry, still needs to secure more trade union or constituency Labour party (CLP) support before being able to join the final three rivals on the ballot paper.
And in a surprise result, Jeremy Corbyn’s local party in Islington North nominated Shadow Brexit Secretary Mr Starmer to become the next party leader.
The move comes as a blow to Ms Long-Bailey who is considered the closest candidate to the party leadership.
The next Labour leader and deputy leader will be announced at a special conference on 4 April.