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The Brexit fallout: Can Corbyn feel comfortable?

Doubts surrounding Jeremy Corbyn's future as Labour leader are among the fallout from the Brexit vote. Credit: PA Wire

The leadership situation in the Conservative Party is much more straightforward than the one currently playing out in the Labour Party.

We can, however, say this for sure: there is a huge amount of anger in Labour that England and Wales voted Leave in the referendum - and much of that anger is being directed at the leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn's perceived lack of enthusiasm for the Remain campaign is being blamed for so many of Labour's white, working class heartlands voting Leave.

Those traditional Labour voters were attracted by the vision as set out by Nigel Farage - not the one set out by Mr Corbyn.

Two MPs have tabled a motion of no confidence in the leader.

Jeremy Corbyn has faced criticism from within his party for his role in the Vote Remain campaign. Credit: PA Wire

It will be debated on Monday - and voted on by Tuesday.

But the vote - even if it's not thrown out - is not binding on the leadership.

Some shadow ministers tell me they have had emails from party members calling on Mr Corbyn to stand down.

One said members were "appealing to the shadow cabinet to take action" and the MP said to me, "We can't go on this way."

But where next?

Mr Corbyn's opponents acknowledge that the party membership would in all likelihood re-elect Mr Corbyn, if he were to appear on the ballot once more in any leadership election.

So they are faced with two options:

  • Trigger a leadership contest and make sure the leader does not have enough support from MPs to get on the ballot paper at all.
  • Wait for the new Tory leader in October and then vote with Tory MPs to trigger a General Election (these days you need 66% of the 650 members to overturn the five-year cycle of the Fixed term Parliament Act). They are certain Mr Corbyn would lose the General Election and he would then be forced to stand down.

The first of those two scenarios is tricky: they know they need one candidate around whom MPs can coalesce; they don't have an obvious candidate other than the oft-mentioned Dan Jarvis; and Labour party members (who ultimately elect the leader) may refuse to support Mr Corbyn's challenger.

The second of those two scenarios is more risky: Labour could win fewer seats in a General Election than they did in 2015; it could see more Labour voters start supporting UKIP; it would inevitably mean another five years in opposition if they were to lose.

So what does Labour do?

No-one knows.

But the referendum result has made many Labour figures angry at their leader.

And it seems they're no longer prepared to sit on their hands.

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