UK Labour Party leader under pressure from Shadow Cabinet colleagues | News | DW | 26.06.2016
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UK Labour Party leader under pressure from Shadow Cabinet colleagues

As divisions within the UK Labour Party leadership begin to deepen following the Brexit vote, Jeremy Corbyn has sacked a key member of his team. Corbyn was accused of running a lack-lustre campaign.

Just days after the UK voted 52 percent to 48 in favor of the EU referendum, seven leading members of the opposition Labour Party stepped down in protest against leader Jeremy Corbyn (pictured above, right).

Among the seven MPs was Labour's health policy chief, Heidi Alexander. In light of the "Brexit" vote, the UK needed a credible opposition, Alexander said - something which she said she believed Corbyn could not provide.

In a letter to Corbyn, posted on Twitter, Alexander wrote: "As much as I respect you as a man of principle, I do not believe you have the capacity to shape the answers our country is demanding and I believe that if we are to form the next government, a change of leadership is essential."

Like Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, Corbyn campaigned in favor of remaining in the EU throughout the referendum debate. The Labour leader now faces accusations, however, that he led a "lackluster" campaign which led to millions of Labour supporters ignoring his advice to vote against a "Brexit."

Corbyn has so far dismissed a vote of no confidence, although a vote on the motion is likely to be held by the parliamentary Labour Party on Tuesday.

Any challenger to the Labour leadership would need the support of 20 percent of the party's 229 MPs.

Leadership coup

The wave of resignations on Sunday followed reports in the British newspaper "The Observer" that Corbyn had fired Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn (pictured top, left) over claims he was preparing to lead a coup against him.

"It is understood that Benn had called fellow MPs over the weekend to suggest that he would ask Corbyn to stand down if there was significant support for a move against him," the newspaper reported.

"He had also asked shadow cabinet colleagues to join him in resigning if Corbyn ignored that request."

According to a Labour spokesman, Corbyn had "lost confidence" in Benn.

'Not a leader'

Speaking to BBC television after his dismissal, Benn said Corbyn was not the right person to head the party and should resign.

"He is a good and decent man, but he is not a leader," Benn said, adding, however, that he himself would not be a candidate for the leadership position in the case of a vote.

Rumors of Benn's likely dismissal in the case of a shadow cabinet reshuffle had been circulating among party members for weeks.

Following Corbyn's decision to sack Benn on Sunday, Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods tweeted that the decision was "sad news."

"I cannot understand how Jeremy thinks it will help his worsening position with the PLP," she said, using the party's official acronym.

Fellow party lawmaker Ben Bradshaw tweeted: "The Labour shadow cabinet must now act to save the party and for the sake of the country. Otherwise we will never be forgiven."

Tory leadership race

Prime Minister Cameron was the first casualty of the losing "Remain" camp, announcing on Friday that he would be leaving office by October.

The race is now on to see who will become the next Conservative party leader and, in effect, the next British prime minister.

Having successfully led the "Vote Leave" campaign, former London Mayor Boris Johnson looks to be the front-runner, despite reports of opposition within Conservative ranks.

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