Chris Leslie, the Labour MP for Nottingham East, has lost a vote of confidence by his Constituency Labour Party after local party activists voted through a motion by a heavy margin.
The motion, brought by members of the Mapperly branch of Nottingham East, attacks the former shadow chancellor for his “disloyalty and deceit”, which it dubbed “a severe impediment to Labour Party electability”, which is “incompatible” with his continuing as the Labour candidate for Nottingham East.
Leslie and some of his supporters were elsewhere in the constituency attending a rally in favour of a third referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, but supporters of Leslie flatly admit that even had they been there, the motion would have been lost heavily.
Leslie is the fourth Labour MP to lose a vote of confidence by his local party, after Labour Leavers Frank Field (who now sits as an independent) and Kate Hoey and Remainers Gavin Shuker and Joan Ryan.
Although the motion has no formal force it is an early sign that Leslie is likely to face an uphill battle to be readopted as the Labour candidate should he wish to be. (Leslie, like Shuker, is one of those widely believed within Labour to be planning to walk away from the party in any case.) But the news is unlikely to provoke widespread alarm within the Parliamentary Labour Party. Leslie has been an outspoken and heavily critical opponent of Jeremy Corbyn and many MPs believe he has gone too far in his criticisms of the party leader.
They will tell themselves that Leslie is a special case, just as they feel those MPs who have lost motions of no confidence thus far have also been. It’s not like the widespread outrage and worry that motions – ultimately defeated – brought against Rosie Duffield and Thangam Debbonaire, have provoked in the PLP. If the likes of those MPs start to lose motions of no confidence and struggle in their reselection bids, then we might begin to see real panic and unease among their colleagues.
But while no confidence motions are limited to Leavers and Corbyn’s most ideologically distant critics, most MPs, even heavily Corbynsceptic ones, will feel relatively safe within the party.