Jim Murphy, who has resigned: Not waving but... Photo: Getty
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Jim Murphy resigns as leader of Scottish Labour

Jim Murphy has resigned his position after narrowly surviving a no-confidence vote.

Jim Murphy has resigned as Scottish Labour leader after narrowly surviving  a vote of no confidence in his leadership from the party's ruling NEC by three votes.

He will leave in June, allowing a new leader to take over in the summer. 

He told reporters: "I'll take some time to reflect, I'll always be on call if anyone seeks any point in calling me, I won't be a back-seat driver, I will offer my permanent, unconditional support to my successor. I will never leave the Labour Party - I love the Labour Party and the Labour Party will be back, it'll be back strong because it's built from an idea, not from machine politics. We'll be back, we'll win again."

He criticised Len McCluskey of the Unite union, who had called for him to go, saying that the union boss had blamed him for the wider election defeat of Labour. "That is a grotesque insult to the Scottish Labour party. It's a grotesque insult to thousands of volunteers from someone who pays occasional fleeting visits to our great country."

Murphy indicated he would recommend a one member, one vote policy for choosing his replacement.

His rivals paid tribute to him on Twitter, with the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon saying Murphy "deserves credit for standing up for what he believes in".

The Conservatives' Scottish leader, Ruth Davidson said he leaves a "tough gig" for whoever comes next:

 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.