The Labour EU referendum rebels: the full list

The six Labour MPs who voted in favour of Tory MP James Wharton's EU referendum bill.

Not one MP dared to vote against Tory MP James Wharton's EU referendum bill at its second reading today, with 304 voting in favour. But while most Labour MPs followed their leader's advice to abstain, there were six who backed the bill in an unusual alliance of the party's old left and old right. They were:

Roger Godsiff

Kate Hoey

Kelvin Hopkins

Dennis Skinner

Graham Stringer 

Gisela Stuart

This is notably fewer than the number (15) who support the Labour for a Referendum campaign, with many put off by what they see as the excessive partisanship of the Tories. 

Having avoided voting against a referendum, the key question now for Miliband is whether he will either table or support an amendment calling for a pre-2015 vote. An increasing number of Labour MPs are of the view that the party should use this device to split the Tories (Cameron has promised a vote in 2017 following a renegotiation) and to avoid the charge that it is denying the people a say. In a significant intervention yesterday, shadow work and pensions minister Ian Austin broke ranks to call for a referendum at the same time as next year's European elections. Whether or not Miliband has the chutzpah to adopt this strategy, it is significant that he has not ruled it out. 

Dennis Skinner in full flow.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Will Jeremy Corbyn stand down if Labour loses the general election?

Defeat at the polls might not be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

The latest polls suggest that Labour is headed for heavy defeat in the June general election. Usually a general election loss would be the trigger for a leader to quit: Michael Foot, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband all stood down after their first defeat, although Neil Kinnock saw out two losses before resigning in 1992.

It’s possible, if unlikely, that Corbyn could become prime minister. If that prospect doesn’t materialise, however, the question is: will Corbyn follow the majority of his predecessors and resign, or will he hang on in office?

Will Corbyn stand down? The rules

There is no formal process for the parliamentary Labour party to oust its leader, as it discovered in the 2016 leadership challenge. Even after a majority of his MPs had voted no confidence in him, Corbyn stayed on, ultimately winning his second leadership contest after it was decided that the current leader should be automatically included on the ballot.

This year’s conference will vote on to reform the leadership selection process that would make it easier for a left-wing candidate to get on the ballot (nicknamed the “McDonnell amendment” by centrists): Corbyn could be waiting for this motion to pass before he resigns.

Will Corbyn stand down? The membership

Corbyn’s support in the membership is still strong. Without an equally compelling candidate to put before the party, Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP are unlikely to initiate another leadership battle they’re likely to lose.

That said, a general election loss could change that. Polling from March suggests that half of Labour members wanted Corbyn to stand down either immediately or before the general election.

Will Corbyn stand down? The rumours

Sources close to Corbyn have said that he might not stand down, even if he leads Labour to a crushing defeat this June. They mention Kinnock’s survival after the 1987 general election as a precedent (although at the 1987 election, Labour did gain seats).

Will Corbyn stand down? The verdict

Given his struggles to manage his own MPs and the example of other leaders, it would be remarkable if Corbyn did not stand down should Labour lose the general election. However, staying on after a vote of no-confidence in 2016 was also remarkable, and the mooted changes to the leadership election process give him a reason to hold on until September in order to secure a left-wing succession.

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