Rector calls on Jeremy Corbyn to step down as Labour leader

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Photo: University of St Andrews/Wikipedia

University rector Catherine Stihler, a Labour party Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Scotland, has called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to step down.

The call comes after Mr Corbyn lost a vote of confidence among Labour party MPs by a margin of 172 to 40.

The vote was taken following the resignation of over 50 of Mr Corbyn’s frontbench shadow ministers, all of whom have said he should resign as Labour leader.

In a letter released on behalf of the majority of Labour party MEPs, Ms Stihler and others cited “serious concerns” after Mr Corbyn’s performance during the EU referendum.

“The EPLP has always striven to have a loyal and constructive relationship with our party leader, and we have worked hard to cooperate with you over recent months. However, we have very serious concerns in the light of Labour’s defeat in the referendum campaign,” the letter reads.

Going on, the letter said, “Responsibility for the UK leaving the EU lies with David Cameron. That being said, we were simply astounded that on Friday morning, as news of the result sank in, an official Labour briefing document promoted the work of Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart for the Leave campaign.

“Labour’s loyal and dedicated teams of activists had just spent weeks on the doorstep and on street-stalls making the case to remain in the EU and countering leave campaign arguments. Yet you and your office authorised a briefing that put the whole Labour campaign on a par with two Labour politicians who had been appearing for weeks alongside right-wing politicians, such as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.

“Separate from the referendum issue, it has become clear in recent days that you do not have the confidence of the Parliamentary Labour Party. We find it hard to see how many Labour leader can continue in that role if they do not have the support of their MPs.

“So it is with a heavy heart that we urge you, for the sake of the Labour Party and for the people in our country who need a Labour government, to reconsider your position as Labour leader.”

Ms Stihler’s name also appeared on a letter signed by Scottish Labour Party members calling for Mr Corbyn to step down.

That letter argues that “We need a credible, competent opposition but Jeremy Corbyn is currently unable to fill all positions on his front bench. Jeremy Corbyn wants to captain a ship for which he has no crew. For the good of the party and, more importantly, the country, he must step aside.”

Mr Corbyn has so far resisted all calls for him to resign, emailing members expressing his intention to stay on.

In the email, Mr Corbyn said, “Since I was elected leader of our party nine months ago, we have repeatedly defeated the Government over its attacks on living standards. Last month, Labour become the largest party in the local elections. In Thursday’s referendum, a narrow majority voted to leave, but two thirds of Labour supporters backed our call for a Remain vote.

Going on, Mr Corbyn said, “I was elected leader of our party, for a new kind of politics, by 60% of Labour members and supporters. The need for that different approach is greater now than ever.

“Our people need Labour Party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite. As leader it is my continued commitment to dedicate our party’s activity to that goal.”

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