- Eagle previously limited herself to calling for Corbyn to quit
- Labour in disarray at time of crisis in British politics
Pressure on U.K. Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn intensified on Monday as his former business spokeswoman said she’s prepared to mount a leadership challenge unless he steps down.
“I have the support to run and resolve this impasse and I will do so if Jeremy doesn’t take action soon,” Angela Eagle told broadcasters outside her home. “It’s a week since Jeremy lost that vote of no confidence and there are many other people up and down the country wanting him to consider his position.”
Corbyn is clinging on to power after losing a confidence vote among his lawmakers by 172 votes to 40 and seeing dozens of senior Labour lawmakers quit his opposition team. The standoff has left the party in disarray at a time of crisis in British politics following last month’s shock Brexit vote, which triggered the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and sent the pound to a 31-year low against the dollar. Corbyn refused to go in a video to party members on Monday, and issued an appeal for party unity on Sunday.
“I have a huge responsibility. I’m carrying out that responsibility and I’m carrying on with that responsibility,” Corbyn said. “I want to reach out to all our members, to all our supporters, to all our trade union affiliates and to my colleagues in Parliament: Come together now to oppose this Tory government.”
Until now, Eagle has limited herself only to calling for his resignation, without openly signaling she has the support to spark a leadership contest. Rebel lawmakers, who outnumber those supporting Corbyn, are seeking a unifying candidate in a bid to unseat the hard-line socialist, who was elected with 60 percent support among party members less than a year ago.
Critics of Corbyn cite his lackluster campaign for failing to persuade voters to back staying in the European Union.
Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell called for an end to the infighting, saying in a BBC Radio interview Monday that Corbyn has a mandate to lead. He denied that Corbyn has refused to meet with Deputy Leader Tom Watson and other senior Labour lawmakers.
“No one wants what we’re going through at the moment,” McDonnell said. “Let’s unite the party and let’s present ourselves as an effective opposition working together in the interests of the country.”