Saturday 18 November 2017

Top backer told Corbyn: 'quit - this has gone far enough'

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

Kate McCann

Jeremy Corbyn, the man hotly tipped to be the new leader of the British Labour party after an election on Saturday, is said to have been told by a senior supporter that he should quit the leadership contest because he never intended to win.

A senior source told the frontrunner a few weeks ago that "this has gone far enough, time to stop" and urged him to stand aside but Mr Corbyn rebuffed the claims, according to the BBC.

The message is said to have come from one of Mr Corbyn's most senior backers.

The Islington North MP has repeatedly said he intends to fight the general election in 2020 as Labour's candidate, despite struggling to get on the ballot paper for the election.

Asked in the summer if he wants to be prime minister, Mr Corbyn replied: "I am doing this because I want our party to change. I'm doing this because I'm putting myself forward to do the job in order to bring about that change."

Pushed for an answer, he said: "Of course, that's why we're all here."

It came as Shadow Cabinet MP Chuka Umunna took aim at Labour supporters who have spouted "vitriol and bile" towards the leadership candidates - particularly Liz Kendall.

Mr Umunna also warned "the life has been sucked out of the parliamentary Labour party" because MPs are not given the space to debate important policy issues.

He said he would not be able to serve in Mr Corbyn's top team because he does not agree with many of the frontrunner's policies - despite previously claiming he would not rule out a position.

Mr Umunna said: "If he intends to lead on the same programme he has been campaigning on - which would involve our withdrawal from Nato; equivocation about whether we would be 'yes' in an EU referendum campaign; and a 7pc increase in national insurance for middle-income families, etc - I wouldn't be able to go along with those things.

"That would stand in the way of me being able to serve in a shadow cabinet if that was the programme, but I don't think serving in a shadow cabinet is the only way you can make a contribution."

Yesterday the party was urged to "get its act together" after the election of a new leader and help fight the Government's "vicious attack" against trade unions. TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said workers needed Labour to "get stuck in" to oppose the controversial Trade Union Bill.

The party's new leader will be announced on Saturday, days before the bill receives its second reading in parliament.

A number of human rights groups have warned that the proposed measures represent a "major attack" on civil liberties.

Ms O'Grady, speaking ahead of the TUC Congress, said the Bill threatened the existence of unions and was designed to remove opposition to deep spending cuts. "We are leading one of the most important campaigns unions have ever fought.

"I think a growing number of people are starting to realise that this is attempting to roll back liberties British people have taken for granted for generations.

(© Daily Telegraph London)

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