UK UK’s opposition leader loses confidence vote

UK’s opposition leader loses confidence vote

Jeremy Corbyn .
Jeremy Corbyn .

The leader of the U.K.’s main opposition party, Jeremy Corbyn, overwhelmingly lost a vote of confidence among his party’s lawmakers Tuesday.

Labour members of parliament backed the motion by 172 votes to 40, with four abstentions.

However, Corbyn said the vote had “no constitutional legitimacy” and he would not resign.

The result was the latest episode in a struggle to win control of Britain’s main center-left party and came days after Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum in which Corbyn was accused of running a lackluster campaign to remain.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who also supported remaining in the EU, announced his resignation shortly after referendum result.

A veteran of the party’s left-wing, Corbyn was elected by party members last September but has little support among Labour lawmakers, who are mostly centrists.

Alastair Campbell, the former  press secretary and advisor to ex-Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, said he believed the party could split if Corbyn did not resign.

He told the BBC: “I would like to think not but I can see the circumstances in which it would and Jeremy Corbyn would have to bear the brunt of the responsibility for that because he has had a message [from lawmakers].”

In a statement issued shortly after the result of the confidence vote was announced, Corbyn said: “I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters and I will not betray them by resigning.

“Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy. We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.”

The confidence vote is expected to trigger a formal leadership challenge later this week.

Corbyn was elected leader with 59.5 percent of the membership vote last September but centrist figures in the party have said his left-wing policies will not appeal to the wider electorate.