Rebel Labour MPs 'mull alternative party setup' to thwart Jeremy Corbyn
Labour rebels are apparently considering a plan to sideline Jeremy Corbyn by electing a separate leader and fighting to retain the party's name if he wins the upcoming leadership election.
According to the Daily Telegraph, MPs are mulling over a “semi-split” to create an “alternative Labour” with its own shadow cabinet to vie for the role of official opposition.
Mr Corbyn has faced a massive no confidence from his MPs and mass resignations from his shadow ministerial team but has refused to quit.
He faces a leadership challenge from former frontbencher Owen Smith, the result of which will be announced on 24 September.
But some in the party's moderate wing who assume Mr Corbyn will claim victory again are considering a separate party set-up and a legal challenge to keep the Labour name.
“Essentially, the majority of MPs will formally set up their own grouping under an alternative Labour banner,” one told the paper.
“It is not a ‘we’re off to set up a new party,’ it is a ‘this is our party, we’re not leaving but our current situation is intolerable’.
“The Parliamentary Labour Party would elect a leader which may or may not be Owen [Smith]. Other candidates could come into the frame at that point.”
Another MP said the plan would avoid the “nuclear” option of a full split, since the “notion that we’ll all go back to happy families is nonsense,” while another added:
“We can be liberated from the drag anchor and the poison that is Jeremy and his team and would be able to take the fight to the Tories.”
One said: “It is like American politics. We will have an anti-Tory caucus that concentrates on taking the fight to the Tories.”
'REBELS DAMAGED THE PARTY'
Labour has faced a string of dire poll ratings in the last week, including two giving the Conservatives double digit leads and one suggesting millions of Labour voters at the last election would now back Theresa May.
Responding to the grim poll numbers, a spokesman for Mr Corbyn's leadership campaign said: "Before the attempts began to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader, Labour and the Tories were neck-and-neck in the polls.
"The actions of a few, at a time of national crisis, have damaged the party in the short term.”