Under fire from inside and outside Labour for not making a strong enough case for Britain to remain in the EU, party leader Jeremy Corbyn insisted on Saturday he will stay on to protect workers rights in Brexit negotiations due to begin soon.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was among those flaying Corbyn for what he called his “lukewarm” approach to the referendum that has dismayed millions of Remain supporters after the Leave vote on Friday.
Corbyn said: “The referendum has taken place, a decision has been made, I think we have got to respect that decision and work out our relationship with Europe in the future.”
Denying that his campaign was “half-hearted,” Corbyn said two-thirds of Labour voters had voted for Remain in response to his call. He said he travelled across the country, pointing out difficulties in the EU, while calling for better levels of protection.
“There are some people in the Parliamentary Labour Party who would probably want somebody else being the leader of this party, they have made that abundantly clear in the past few days,” he said. Asked if he would stand again if there was a challenge to his leadership, he said: “Yes, I'm here, thank you.”
Labour MPs Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey have submitted a motion of no confidence in him. Coffey said: “The result of the referendum was a disastrous result for us and the leadership must bear a share of the responsibility for that.”
It was a lacklustre campaign, it didn't contain a strong enough message and the leader himself appeared half-hearted about it. If you’ve got a leader who appears half-hearted, you can hardly be surprised if the public feels the same way.”
As per Labour rules, 50 MPs need to unite around an alternative candidate to trigger a new leadership contest. Corbyn has faced criticism of being “unelectable” and unable to lead the party to power.
Labour MP Frank Field said Corbyn “isn't the right person to lead Labour into an election, because nobody thinks he will win. We need somebody who the public think of as an alternative prime minister.”