EU Referendum

Will Labour rebels remove Jeremy Corbyn?

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Getty Images

"It may be brutal, it may be bloody but he has to go. We have no choice."

That's the view of a former Labour minister who's plotting to oust Jeremy Corbyn.

But there was no immediate support from the current frontbench.

Labour's shadow cabinet met for nearly three hours this morning and there were no explicit calls for the leader's resignation.

But there was sustained criticism of the way Jeremy Corbyn had conducted the referendum campaign and what was seen as his failure to address concerns about immigration, and one source insisted: "He was not enjoying the confidence of the room."

He defended himself by pointing out that an estimated six out of 10 Labour voters had backed Remain and that he himself had campaigned "the length and breadth of the country" arguing both for Remain and for reform of the EU.

But while the shadow cabinet meeting was in session, the veteran Labour MPs Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey called for a motion of no confidence to be discussed at Monday's meeting of the parliamentary Labour Party.

It's likely that the motion will be discussed and a secret ballot of MPs will then be held on Tuesday.

Even if passed overwhelmingly, constitutionally the motion can't force Jeremy Corbyn to resign.

But the hope of the plotters is that he doesn't ignore it - he reflects on his position, then goes - perhaps even with some of his allies' encouragement.

Union view

Some MPs - such as the former cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw and the recently-elected but high-profile Stephen Kinnock - have already said they will be voting for Mr Corbyn's departure.

But the leaders of some of the big unions that fund Labour have issued a joint statement urging MPs not to embark on the 'indulgence' of a 'manufactured leadership row' - while an online petition in support of the party leader has garnered 39,000 signatures.

So it's possible he digs in his heels.

And one Westminster wag compared the anti-Corbyn MPs to Rasputin's assassins.

That's because it's not clear they will be able to remove him quickly or painlessly.

So if he doesn't go by next Wednesday, they say a so called 'stalking horse' candidate is likely to stand against him.

This, in turn, they believe would smoke out more serious challengers who so far have kept their heads just beneath the political parapets.

They are also hopeful that if he were to ignore a confidence vote, several shadow cabinet members would resign and openly call for him to go.

But even some of the shadow cabinet members who are most critical of Corbyn's leadership aren't convinced this is the right time to oust him.

In part, they think a leadership contest would be a distraction from the Conservatives' difficulties - but they also believe the predominantly left-wing membership would re-elect him, making the whole exercise divisive yet futile.

So any reports of Jeremy Corbyn's imminent political demise may be exaggerated.

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