Brexit: Labour’s Corbyn faces calls to resign over referendum campaign

London, June 24 (IANS) After Labour MPs blamed party leader Jeremy Corbyn for disastrous ‘Remain’ campaign for the EU referendum, Corbyn on Monday will face calls for his resignation when the party MPs meet again.

Corbyn, who has never commanded majority support among Labour MPs, is under fire for failing to persuade Labour voters to back the ‘Remain’ campaign, The Independent.uk reported.

Britons voted 51.9 per cent for Brexit against 48.1 per cent of ‘Remain’ vote in a historic referendum on Thursday.

Britain joined the European Union on January 1 in 1973.

Angela Smith, the maverick Labour MP for Penistone, was the first to break cover on Friday and call for Corbyn to go.

“Corbyn has got to take responsibility. He should consider his position. He’s shown insufficient leadership,” she said.

A prominent backbench MP who believes Corbyn should resign, said: “I’m going to say so at the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party). No doubt it will leak after the meeting.

“I don’t think Corbyn is the one most to blame for this. I’m absolutely furious with Boris Johnsons who lied, and lied and lied — and people believed that eight million Turks were going to come here, they believed there would be 350 million pounds for the National Health Service (NHS).

“But there was also a failure of Labour leadership. If we had campaigned better, we could have got another half a million votes for Remain.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair described Labour’s contribution to the ‘Remain’ campaign as “pretty lukewarm”.

Lord Mandelson, a former Labour Deputy Prime Minister and ally of Blair, said Corbyn’s voice had been “curiously muted” during the campaign. “But when he did say anything there were mixed messages.”

Corbyn spent most of his political life arguing for Britain to leave the EU. He voted against signing major treaties with the EU in 1992 and 2007, but during the referendum he campaigned on a promise that if the country voted ‘Remain’, he would lead a campaign to reform it from within.

Unlike other Labour figures such as Mayor Sadiq Khan, Corbyn refused to share a platform with David Cameron, a decision which cost him opportunities to reach a mass audience during the campaign.

One survey suggested that half of Labour natural supporters did not know the party was in favour of ‘Remain’.

News that Labour MPs hope to use the post-referendum crisis as an opportunity to oust him will come as no surprise to the Labour leader’s office.

A leaked copy of a briefing paper drawn up by Corbyn’s staff was setting arguments to answers to those who say Corbyn shares some of the blame the defeat of the ‘Remain’ side.

The document argues that Labour voters used the referendum to “kick a Conservative government”, and claims: “Corbyn has showed that he is far closer to the centre of gravity of the British public than other politicians. He is now the only politician who can unite a divided country, as he can speak to both sides.”

–IANS

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