Watson turns to union leaders to broker Corbyn’s departure

4th July, 2016 11:32 pm

Tom Watson

Tom Watson told Labour MPs this evening that he will meet union leaders tomorrow to persuade them to broker a negotiated settlement with Jeremy Corbyn which would see him stand down.

The Deputy Leader told the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party that he had seen Corbyn this morning and told him that the support of the membership was not enough to save him as leader without the backing of Labour MPs. He said that the Labour Leader has made clear he had no intention to step down.

The former Labour Leader, Neil Kinnock, also addressed the PLP this evening, accusing Corbyn of standing for revolutionary socialism rather than democratic socialism which, he argued, the Labour Party has historically always stood for. He received a standing ovation and moved some MPs to tears.

Earlier today, Corbyn sought to speak directly to Labour Party members via a video released on Twitter. In it he urged MPs to “come together now” to oppose the Tories and argued that he had led the party to victory in byelections and the recent council elections and forced the government to retreat on tax credits and forced academisation of schools.

It is unclear how successful Watson will be in persuading union leaders to move on Corbyn. Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, described the behaviour of Labour MPs as the “political lynching of a decent man” on Sunday and insisted that the “coup” had failed. The other union leaders have said they back Corbyn but in less determined language.

If tomorrow’s meeting fails to find agreement a leadership challenge is almost certain, with Angela Eagle confirming earlier today that she would stand against Corbyn. The former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith is also preparing for a challenge.

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