Rebel Labour MPs are mounting a secret bid to bring down Jeremy Corbyn, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
They plan to thwart moves to install ‘Corbyn legacy’ candidates in vacant Commons seats to keep alive his hard-Left vision after he has gone.
The Labour moderates are plotting to force their leader to resign and prevent him from consigning the party to a wipe-out in an early General Election.
They have set up a rebel WhatsApp group named ‘Clause One’ – a reference to the party constitution’s opening commitment to be a ‘political Labour Party’ in Parliament – amid fears it is losing its raison d’etre.
Rebel Labour MPs are mounting a secret bid to bring down Jeremy Corbyn (pictured at the Labour Party Conference in September)
The plot emerged after leading moderate MP Neil Coyle warned the Opposition leader to his face his tactics could mean ‘we may never again have a Labour Prime Minister’.
Mr Corbyn was also challenged by a Labour peer to admit he and his allies did not care about losing the next Election as more hard-Left Corbynistas were likely to survive as MPs in an Election meltdown than moderate centre-ground candidates.
The party leader sparked fury from his backbenchers last week by dithering over whether to back Boris Johnson’s call for a pre-Christmas Election, despite fears from many Labour MPs that a pre-Brexit contest would cost them their seats.
Mr Corbyn has since insisted that he will only back an Election if a No Deal Brexit is ruled out but has still not given a definitive answer on how his MPs will vote when Mr Johnson seeks to win approval for a December 12 Election in the Commons tomorrow.
The confusion comes amid reports that a ‘tired’ Mr Corbyn is looking to stand aside, with long-time friend and ally Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell now in effective control of the party. Mr Corbyn’s stewardship of the party came in for fierce criticism at a private meeting with senior MPs and peers last week.
The plot emerged after leading moderate MP Neil Coyle (pictured) warned the Opposition leader to his face his tactics could mean ‘we may never again have a Labour Prime Minister’
Sources say Bermondsey MP Mr Coyle savaged his leader over the dangers for Labour from a snap poll – warning it could hasten Scotland’s departure from the UK and mean that without Scotland providing Labour MPs at Westminster, Labour might never win another Commons majority.
The backbencher reportedly warned Mr Corbyn: ‘If you give Johnson the Election he wants, it’s not just you that will not be Prime Minister. If Johnson decides to get a No Deal Brexit and then Scotland leaves the UK, we may never have a Labour Prime Minister again.’
Lord Harris, chairman of the Labour Peers’ Group in the House of Lords, also suggested some on the party’s ruling NEC ‘may not care about winning because if the Parliamentary Labour Party is reduced in size [after an Election], it will be ideologically purer’.
Sources said the jibe from the Labour peer, who has previously said Mr Corbyn was ‘not cut out’ to run the party, was clearly aimed at the leader himself.
However, Labour rebels have already decided to move against Mr Corbyn. The group is co-ordinating how to stop what they see as a concerted bid by Corbynistas imposing like-minded candidates in Labour-held parliamentary seats.
The protests came amid a major row in Labour-held Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire this weekend over claims that would-be MP Keir Morrison – a Unite-backed Left-winger who reportedly enjoys support from members of the party’s ruling NEC – was effectively the Corbynistas’ anointed candidate in a selection meeting scheduled for today.
In 2011, Mr Morrison – standing next to then Labour leader Ed Miliband – was photographed wearing a T-shirt featuring a gravestone and the slogan: ‘A generation of trade unionists will dance on Thatcher’s grave.’
They plan to thwart moves to install ‘Corbyn legacy’ candidates in vacant Commons seats to keep alive his hard-Left vision after he has gone
Mr Miliband later condemned the attire, saying he would not have had his picture taken with Mr Morrison if he had noticed it.
The would-be candidate has also controversially retweeted messages in support of Chris Williamson, the Labour MP suspended after claiming Labour had ‘been too apologetic’ in its response to anti-Semitism allegations.
One Clause One MP said: ‘So many seats are going to arch-Left Corbynistas, it’s crazy.’
He added that the title of their WhatsApp group was meant to be ‘ironic given that’s the part of the constitution which states that we’re a serious political party’.
Labour last night dismissed fears of disaster in an impending Election, saying the party would run ‘the most ambitious, confident, people-powered campaign this country has ever seen’.
Party sources also invoked Mr Corbyn’s surprise performance in 2017 when he defied poll predictions to deprive Theresa May’s Tories of a Commons majority. ‘We upended conventional wisdom in 2017 and we will do so again,’ they said.
Mr Morrison said the candidate selection process was ‘governed by the rules of the party’ and ‘whoever is longlisted or shortlisted is not my decision’. A party spokesman said the shortlist was drawn up by a panel including regional and local constituency representatives based on the ‘quality of applications’.
Mr Morrison declined to comment further on the Chris Williamson controversy, but said: ‘I fully support the robust action the party is taking to tackle anti-Semitism.’