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Tom Watson plans "last throw of the dice" to achieve Jeremy Corbyn's departure

Labour's deputy leader tells MPs that he will meet trade union leaders tomorrow to try and negotiate a settlement. 

Tom Watson is to meet trade union leaders tomorrow in a final attempt to negotiate the departure of Jeremy Corbyn. "A last throw of the dice" was how Labour's deputy leader described the move at the first Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting since MPs' vote of no confidence in Corbyn. Watson warned that "the window is closing" for an agreement, a sentiment shared by putative challengers Angela Eagle and Owen Smith whom he met today. 

The deputy leader held a 20-minute meeting with Corbyn this morning and urged him to resign having lost colleagues' backing. Three MPs who backed the leader in last week's confidence vote (Pat Glass, Liz McInnes and Andrew Smith) have since called for his departure. Fabian Hamilton, who abstained, has also demanded Corbyn's resignation. 

Members' support alone, Watson warned, was not enough. But a spokesman for the deputy leader said Corbyn "gave no indication that he would resign". Unless at least some of the "big four" unions - Unite, Unison, the GMB and the CWU - move against Corbyn, a leadership contest looks inevitable. 

The most dramatic moment of the evening was provided by Neil Kinnock, the man who defeated Labour's far-left in the 1980s. In a furiously impassioned speech, the former leader moved MPs to tears as he declared that he would not allow the party to split after 60 years as a member. "We are not leaving our party. We are going to fight and we are going to win!" he cried, thumping the table as he spoke.

Kinnock emphasised that Labour chose to take "the parliamentary route to socialism" in 1918, not the revolutionary one. He also made a crack at the expense of Dennis Skinner, who noted that voters in supermarkets told MPs that Ed Miliband was unelectable. "Apply your supermarket test to Corbyn!" he quipped. Whether or not the Labour leader passes that test, his allies are confident he will pass the members' one. 

Update: This piece wrongly described Lyn Brown and Rob Marris (who abstained) as having supported Jeremy Corbyn in the no confidence vote. The error has been corrected.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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