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Jeremy Corbyn loses Labour MPs' vote of no confidence

British opposition leader sees 172 Labour MPs vote against him only a day after 10,000-strong protest by party membership in his support
Corbyn outside parliament during a pro-Corbyn demonstration in central London on 27, June 2016 (AFP)

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn lost a vote of no confidence on Tuesday, with 172 of his MPs voting against him, as both the British government and opposition descended further into turmoil following the Brexit vote.

Out of the 216 MPs who participated, only 40 voted in support of their party leader, according to initial reports.

Some in Labour have been angry at what they saw as the failure by Corbyn - traditionally Eurosceptic - to articulate a strong pro-EU position and fight to remain within the bloc.

Two Labour MPs, Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey, submitted the no-confidence motion immediately after the vote on Friday. The no-confidence vote is not binding, and will not on its own force his removal. But it leaves him isolated within parliament, despite his popularity among the wider party membership.

The no-confidence vote comes after Corbyn on Sunday sacked his shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, who said Corbyn was "a good and decent man," but not a leader, and that he had lost the confidence of MPs.

His sacking was followed by two days of resignations from the shadow cabinet – in all 19 shadow cabinet members, 22 shadow ministers and nine parliamentary private secretaries resigned.

The no-confidence vote comes a day after he warned dissenters told parliament: “Our country is divided, and the country will thank neither the government benches nor the opposition benches for indulging in internal factional manoeuvring.”

This led his rebellious backbenchers to shout “resign” on live television.

No resignation

Corbyn has previously said he would not resign, and challenged rebels to gather the 51 MP signatures that would trigger a formal contest. 

"I am not going to betray the trust of those who voted for me or the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them,” Corbyn said in statement on Monday.

Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour by members and affiliates in a landslide victory last September.

Despite his unpopularity with Labour MPs, support for Corbyn within the membership of Labour has increased since his election.

The grassroots, pro-Corbyn activist group Momentum rallied more than 10,000 supporters outside Parliament yesterday as a show of support for their leader.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper was told by a source inside Momentum that it is ready to use its 120,000 supporters and 130 local groups to campaign for Mr Corbyn’s re-election. “We are ready to spring into action,” they told the newspaper. 

In a rancorous meeting between pro and anti-Corbyn factions yesterday, former shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray told his leader to “call off the dogs,” referring to the protestors.

"Those who want to change Labour's leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate," he added.

According to official Labour Party rules, a leadership contest may be triggered if 20 percent of Labour MPs and MEPs, currently 51, nominate a candidate willing to stand against Corbyn.

Labour's national executive committee will ultimately have the final say on the matter.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation last Friday after losing the EU referendum and plunging his party into turmoil.