EXCL Labour MP tells Jeremy Corbyn to his face he must quit as party leader

Posted On: 
14th May 2019

A Labour MP has told Jeremy Corbyn to his face that he must quit as Labour leader if the party is to stand any chance of winning the next general election.

Wes Streeting said Jeremy Corbyn's leadership 'is a bigger issue than Brexit'.
Credit: 
PA Images

Wes Streeting confronted his boss at an ill-tempered meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Mr Corbyn also faced a wave of criticism over Labour position on Brexit and European election campaign at the 90-minute gathering in Parliament.

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Some angry backbenchers claimed that they were being banned from putting out their own campaign literature by Labour HQ, while others said the party's policy on the EU was confusing and needed to be simplified.

The Labour leader said he understood the "frustration" of his MPs, but insisted the party's anti-austerity message would bear fruit when the country goes to the polls on 23 May.

In the final contribution to the meeting, Ilford North MP Mr Streeting told Mr Corbyn: "What is being heard on the doorstep across the country and what people are saying in the tea room, but won’t say to your face, is that you are a bigger issue for us than Brexit.

“If you’re prepared to sacrifice our place in Europe because you think it will deliver a Labour government, why won’t you make way for a leader who can win a general election?"

On Monday, a YouGov poll put Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party on 34%, with Labour on 21% and the Tories on just 10%.

Hove MP Peter Kyle, who backs a second referendum, told Mr Corbyn: "Jeremy, I urge you to simplify our policy to make people realise that we are talking with absolute sincerity."

In an impassioned speech, anti-Brexit Brighton Kempton MP Mr Russell-Moyle - an ally of Mr Corbyn - said Labour branches were not being allowed to tailor their election messages for local voters and said that was putting the "kybosh" on the party's campaign.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray  said Labour needed to learn the lessons of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, which ultimately led to the party losing all but one of its seats north of the Border in the 2015 general election.

He said: "We are not learning the lesson of 2014. My party members aren’t voting Labour as our EU message is awful. And we are putting out leaflets in Scotland that say 'vote Labour to stop Farage'. That will not work.

"If the UK dam bursts, Jeremy will be responsible for washing all of us away and the Labour party with it."

Mr Corbyn told the meeting: "I do understand the frustrations about campaign material and the way in which they have been put to people. I'll be taking action immediately to make sure you get answers"

He added: "I understand the need for a clear message. I don't want to be in a position where voters don't understand what we're saying.

"The only way is to strengthen our message in an understandable, simpler way - I get that."

But one source present at the meeting told PoliticsHome; "It was Jeremy’s worse performance by far. He was attacked from every side. His heart doesn’t seem to be in it. He seemed to be going through the motions."