Seizing on Brexit, Corbyn Opponents Attempt to Oust Leftist Leader
Corbyn tells opponents that he will be a candidate in any new leadership vote and will not 'betray the trust of those who voted for me'
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, caught in the political crosshairs of a post-referendum Parliament, is remaining defiant as opponents seize on Brexit turmoil to attempt to push him out of office.
Corbyn is now readying for a leadership contest after 20 shadow cabinet ministers stepped down over the weekend, accusing the Labour chief of not doing enough to push for the Remain vote as UK residents decided on leaving or staying in the European Union.
His office and supporters are mobilizing against what they say is a coup and have warned that Corbyn will not be scapegoated.
"Those who want to change Labour's leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate," Corbyn said in a statement released Sunday night.
A dozen major labor unions also released a joint statement in support of Corbyn, telling voters that the "last thing Labour needs is a manufactured leadership row of its own."
The party must "unite as a source of national stability" and fight any attempts to exploit the referendum to "introduce a more right-wing Conservative government by the backdoor," reads the statement from the secretaries general of Unison, Unite, and GMB, among other unions.
The wave of resignations this weekend followed Corbyn's sacking of former Labour MP Hilary Benn, who was privately preparing to push Corbyn out of office. Those who stepped down included shadow armed forces minister Toby Perkins, among others.
As the Guardian reports, Perkins' absence "will be notable during defence questions on Monday – underlining the fact that the Labour leader will find it difficult to operate without a team around him."
Corbyn remained calm over the shakeup. "I regret there have been resignations today from my shadow cabinet," he said Sunday. "But I am not going to betray the trust of those who voted for me—or the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them."
"Over the next 24 hours I will reshape my shadow cabinet and announce a new leadership team to take forward Labour's campaign for a fairer Britain," he continued.
Two-thirds of Labour supporters were estimated to support the Remain campaign.
During Parliamentary debate on Monday, the anti-austerity leader pleaded with the UK government to rule out further cuts, and called for even greater investment in communities that voted to Leave and "sent such a strong message to all of us just last week".