Corbyn on brink as Labour leader caught in anti-Semitism row
Published 01/07/2016 | 02:30
Jeremy Corbyn was spared being plunged into a leadership challenge - because of a tip-off that he could be on the verge of resigning.
The Labour leader, who has lost the confidence of more than three-quarters of his MPs, has repeatedly told those pleading with him privately to go that he cannot let down the 250,000 party members and supporters who gave him a resounding victory in last year's leadership election.
Angela Eagle, the former shadow Business Secretary, had decided to try to end the stand-off between the leader and his MPs by starting what threatened to be a bitter and divisive leadership race.
But a few hours before she planned to make the formal announcement that she was a candidate, as Westminster reeled in astonishment at Boris Johnson's decision not to enter the Tory leadership race, Ms Eagle decided to give the Labour leader more time to decide whether he really wants to carry on.
A source close to her said: "There is a belief by some people in the party close to Jeremy that he is going to go. John McDonnell is defiant. Diane Abbott is defiant, but Jeremy looks like a broken man and people think he might go.
"This is too important to get it wrong. Angela wants to do the right thing, If Corbyn's going to go then he should be given the space to go. She doesn't want to give up that prize."
Controversy continued to dog the embattled leader, however, after a Labour MP has claimed the party "cannot be a safe space" for British Jews after Corbyn failed to intervene when she was verbally abused by one of his grassroots supporters at a press conference.
Ruth Smeeth, who is Jewish, said Mr Corbyn had shown a "catastrophic failure of leadership" after Marc Wadsworth, who runs Momentum Black Connexions, accused the Jewish MP of "working hand in hand" with the media during a tirade at the event in central London.
Mr Corbyn had ignored the criticism of Ms Smeeth during the event.
"I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a 'media conspiracy'," Ms Smeeth said after storming out.
"People like this have no place in our party or our movement and must be opposed."