LONDON (AP) — Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will face a leadership contest after the collapse Saturday of talks meant to resolve a party crisis brought on by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
Angela Eagle, the party’s spokeswoman on business issues, will launch her challenge to Corbyn on Monday.
Corbyn has refused to resign from the leadership of the party, which campaigned for Britain to stay in the EU, despite losing a humiliating confidence vote by its lawmakers on June 28. They blame him in part for losing the referendum, but he has insisted that he answers to the grass roots of the party that brought him to power, not to members of parliament.
It was a position repeated Saturday when the party issued a statement saying Corbyn would not “betray the hundreds of thousands of people who elected him.”
The EU vote has caused turmoil in British politics, exposing broad rifts between the views of the major political leaders and the electorate. Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned in light of the vote and a race is under way within the Conservative Party to replace him.
Corbyn is in jeopardy over fears that he would not be able to rally enough national backing to win a snap election should Cameron’s successor choose to call one to add legitimacy to the government.
Senior figures within the party had launched talks with Corbyn’s supporters in the unions to negotiate a dignified exit for Corbyn and thus avoiding a bruising contest that would risk splitting the opposition party.
But the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, pulled the plug on talks when Corbyn made it plain that he would stay “come what may.”
“Many people go through really serious struggles in their lives — struggles to make ends meet, struggles to get a roof over their head, struggles to medically survive,” Corbyn told Sky News. “That’s real pressure —on them. My job is to try to point a different political course for everyone and that’s what I’m doing and I’m very happy to be doing it.”