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29 June 2016

After the European referendum campaign, Jeremy Corbyn needs to go

We can't go on like this, says Mary Honeyball MEP. 

By Mary Honeyball

The Labour Party is in an existential crisis. Jeremy Corbyn’s corrosive leadership has brought the Labour Party close to the edge, and tragically the Party I know and love is now in imminent danger of imploding all together.

This, of course, follows the referendum result, but that is not the only cause. Corbyn’s referendum effort was the strangest political campaign I’ve experienced in over 40 years of Labour Party activity.

It was lacklustre at best, and contrasted markedly with the Brexiters who put heart and soul into their anti-European endeavours, campaigning cross party, side-by-side with the likes of Labour MP Gisela Stuart never far from Boris’ side. It was, evidently, a winning ticket.

Also faced with leadership issues, the Tories are behaving in a formal and business-like way. What a contrast with Labour’s self- indulgent omnishambles.

So what is the immediate future of the Labour Party? There is a real possibility of Corbyn getting on the ballot paper and being re-elected. At that stage 200 MPs may form a new party. And if need be I will join them.

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Jeremy Corbyn is a stubborn politician. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, his strongly held, inflexible beliefs are not helpful in the leader of a political party which aims to form a government.

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We have heard much about democracy during the last month. Democracy must mean listening to the people, taking their hopes, fears and aspirations on board. When the facts change a politician should change his or her mind too, while, of course, maintaining political integrity,

Corbyn has clearly failed to do this. As has become ever more apparent, there are millions of people in Britain who are concerned about immigration. Unfortunately, the Leader of the Labour Party has not done anything to address or allay concerns.

Where was Jeremy Corbyn’s straight talking honest politics on Europe? If that’s what Labour Party members really want, and there’s overwhelming evidence that they do, why didn’t their leader seek to expound this and passionately argue the case for staying in the European Union,  the greatest decision for a generation and beyond.

It is essential to be committed and enthusiastic to win any kind of political campaign. Corbyn was neither.

Our ties of kinship, community and prosperity are tied up with neighbours. Peoples jobs, holidays and relationships are greatest with the countries nearest to us so we should want to preserve these links.

There was nothing ordinary about the first plenary session of the European Parliament following Britain’s referendum on Brexit last week. The usually business-like European Parliament was interrupted by unprecedented emotional turmoil when it met. It’s difficult to properly convey the range of emotions inside the European Parliament. There were tears, embraces, anger-some sat with their backs to Farage as he got up to speak-presumably they couldn’t bear to watch his gloating face or to listen to his goading, ungracious and insensitive speech.

Farage revelled in triumphant jubilation, of course, and couldn’t resist provoking fragile colleagues further by saying “most of you have never done a proper job in your life”.

Labour went into the EU referendum weakened by a leader who wanted out, a conviction politician who cannot make a case for anything outside his narrow belief system.