EXCL Labour MPs say Jamie Reed's resignation is 'only the start' amid growing poll woe
Several Labour MPs are planning to emulate Jamie Reed by quitting their seats before the next general election, PoliticsHome has learned.
Mr Reed - a leading critic of Jeremy Corbyn - stunned Westminster this afternoon by announcing he was resigning from his Copeland seat to take up a job in the nuclear industry.
The father-of-four insisted his decision "has got absolutely nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn", and stressed that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
His resignation triggers a by-election in which Labour will come under massive pressure from the Conservatives - who lost the seat by 2,564 votes in 2015 - and Ukip.
Bookmakers William Hill tonight made the Tories slight favourites to win a seat Labour has held since the 1930s.
One Labour backbencher told PoliticsHome that Mr Reed was unlikely to be the last of his party's MPs to stand down before the next election.
"It's only the start," the MP said. "Plenty of other MPs know Corbyn is walking the Labour party off the edge of a cliff.
"Lots of people are thinking what else to do in life. Better to go as soon as possible than wait until there are dozens of other ex-Labour MPs looking for work once we all lose our seats."
The MP added: "If the right offer came in tomorrow, lots of us would be off like a shot. It's not just that our electoral prospects are so catastrophically awful. Corbyn has made the atmosphere in the party thoroughly unpleasant and sectarian.
"Good people, who want to get things done and make a difference rather than be in some embarrassing protest party, are thinking 'sod this for a game of soldiers'."
Another MP said: "Dozens of ex-Labour MPs will be looking for work after the next election, given the predicted scale of our defeat.
"Jamie's got four kids and a mortgage and I don't think anyone can blame him for putting his family's future first and getting ahead of what will be a very long queue."
In a statement, Jeremy Corbyn said: "I am sorry to hear that Jamie Reed is to stand down as MP for Copeland.
"He has given great service to his party, his country and his constituency. He has been a powerful voice for rural and remote communities and served his community well, campaigning for additional flood defences and infrastructure for Cumbria. I wish him all the best in his future role.
"We now face a by-election and local party members will soon choose a candidate equally committed to Copeland and its people."
Tory chairman Patrick McLoughlin said: "It is a sorry state of affairs when talented members of parliament like him no longer feel comfortable representing Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party – a divided party run by a leader who opposes Trident and wants to dismantle our Armed Forces.
"We look forward to the by-election, and the opportunity to set out how the Conservatives are building a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few."