Angela Eagle tells Jeremy Corbyn: Stand down or I will challenge you

Posted On: 
4th July 2016

Angela Eagle has dramatically broken cover to publicly declare she is ready to challenge Jeremy Corbyn in a leadership race if he refuses to resign.

Angela Eagle wants to be in the Labour driving seat
PA Images

After days of speculation as to whether a challenge will be launched, the former Shadow Business Secretary said she would “resolve this impasse” if Mr Corbyn did not act soon.

More than 60 of Labour's frontbench team have resigned over the last week in a bid to force him Mr Corbyn to quit.

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A motion of no confidence in his performance as leader was also backed by more than three-quarters of Labour MPs, while a string of party grandees have called on him to resign.

Ms Eagle was expected to formally launch a leadership challenge last week, but it was put on hold as further attempts were made to persuade Mr Corbyn to stand down.

But speaking to reporters outside her home this morning, she laid down the gauntlet to the beleaguered leader.

“It’s a week since Jeremy lost that vote of no confidence, and there are many other people up and down the country wanting him to consider his position,” she declared.

“He’s not properly engaged with even the deputy leader of the party, who was elected with a mandate too.

“It’s now time that he did so. There are many people, MPs, party members up and down the country asking me to resolve this impasse, and I will if something isn’t done soon.”

She added: “I have the support to run and resolve this impasse and I will do so if Jeremy does not take action soon.”

Talks are taking place behind the scenes aimed at persuading Mr Corbyn to resign and allow a leadership contest to take place without him.

But one Labour rebel told PoliticsHome: "What Angela did this morning was stupid because things are moving.

"She is doing herself immense damage with the way she is behaving, and even if she does stand she hasn't got a cat in hell's chance of winning.

"Tom Watson is trying to get it resolved so Jeremy can leave with a bit of dignity, but Angela is not making it easy."

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell today admitted to having lost track of which opposition frontbench posts needed to be filled – laying bare the extent of the disarray in the party.

“I'm not fully up to date on who is in place, but let me say this: Whichever responsibilities there are, there will be someone fulfilling those responsibilities,” he said.

“So there will be someone looking after disabilities, there will be someone looking after children and families and... we can continue on as an administration.”

He said Mr Corbyn was meeting with junior frontbenchers to see what roles they might be able to play – and he implored those who had quit their posts to return.

Mr McDonnell also welcomed a proposal by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey that the union could broker a peace deal between the leader and his rebel MPs to avoid "civil war" in the party.