Corbyn Would Win Leadership Challenge, U.K. Labour Ally Says

  • ‘Jeremy is staying leader of the Labour Party,’ McDonnell Says
  • Labour lawmakers are seeking unifying candidate to take over

Jeremy Corbyn won’t resign and is likely to survive any bid to remove him as head of Britain’s main opposition party, according to one his closest allies.

"Jeremy is staying leader of the Labour Party,” John McDonnell, its economy spokesman, told reporters in London Friday. “If there’s a leadership challenge, I think he’ll win."

Corbyn has clung to power during a bruising six days in which he lost a confidence vote and seen dozens of his top team walk out. Party grandees including the last Labour prime minister, Gordon Brown, and the last Labour leader, Ed Miliband, have called for him to step down. Critics cite his lackluster campaign to persuade voters to back staying in the European Union, a defeat that has already cost Prime Minister David Cameron his job.

Labour’s parliamentarians are now seeking a unity candidate to take him on in a leadership challenge, with his former business spokeswoman Angela Eagle touted to lead the charge. She was non-committal in a BBC interview, urging instead that Corbyn should go of his own accord.

“He’s been asked to stand down and at the moment we want him to consider his position and do what is right in the interests of the party,” Eagle said. “So over to you, Jeremy.”

Grassroots Support

While Corbyn has never been popular among Labour members of Parliament, unseating him may not be easy. The hard-line socialist continues to enjoy strong support among the grassroots members who overwhelmingly backed his candidacy less than a year ago.

“The internal difficulties will be resolved, hopefully by democratic means,” McDonnell said. "We’ve maintained a shadow cabinet and a number of people in junior positions as well. Wouldn’t it all be better if people just came back and worked for us? Come back and start working with us again. People out there can’t understand what’s going on when they need us so much.”

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