TORY MP Andrew Bridgen yesterday claimed that Labour MPs who expect Jeremy Corbyn to retain the leadership of the party by winning re-election have been urging the Tories to call a general election.
‘I’ve had very senior Labour MPs come to me and they have begged me to push for an early general election to finish Corbyn off. They say, “Put us out of our misery. It would be a mercy killing”,’ he told the Sunday Times.
Meanwhile, a fraction of the Labour Blairite rebels are planning a new group in parliament after Corbyn wins the leadership race. The rebels say they will sign up more than 100 MPs to join the Co-operative party, Labour’s sister party, and sit on the green benches as ‘double hatted’ MPs, forming, in practice, a national government with the Tories.
The group will appoint their own whips in parliament to co-ordinate their actions alongside the Tories to defeat the Corbyn-led Labour Party. These Blairite MPs are also looking to change the rules at the September party conference so as to elect a shadow cabinet, as previously called for by the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson, effectively seeking to bind and gag Corbyn.
The plan is that a Blairite majority shadow cabinet will draw up policies that include a re-run of the Brexit referendum. The rebels are split over whether to form this new group on the Labour benches using the Co-operative party, or to make a clear break and split away.
The Co-operative party has held an electoral agreement with Labour since 1927 that allows them to stand joint candidates in elections. MPs Stella Creasy, Jonathan Ashworth, Gareth Thomas, John Woodcock and Louise Ellman are among the 25 Labour MPs who are also members of the Co-operative party.
The Co-operative party is recognised by the Electoral Commission. Speaker John Bercow has said if he is to recognise a different official opposition, the party must be registered with the Electoral Commission.
The rebels believe that the move could help protect from threats of de-selection, as Co-Op-Labour MPs could apply to become the official opposition if they command more seats than Corbyn.
However, when Corbyn wins the election the refusal of the Blairites to serve in his shadow cabinet will split the party, with the angry mass membership moving to deselect the ‘traitors’ to put them out of parliament at the next election.