Margaret Hodge, a pro-Israel Member of the UK Parliament, launched a coup attempt against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on Friday.
Corbyn is the left-wing leader of the main opposition Labour Party, who supports boycotts of Israel.
As the UK woke up on Friday to the news that the country had voted to leave the European Union, the right of the party blamed Corbyn for the loss.
Despite long-term Euroskeptism, Corbyn led the Labour campaign to remain in the EU. But his critics have accused him of insufficient enthusiasm.
Corbyn reacted to the vote saying, “the British people have made their decision. We must respect that result.” He called for the two-year negotiation process to exit the EU to begin and for jobs to be protected.
The vote was 52 percent in favor of leaving against 48 percent wanting to remain. There was a turnout of 72 percent.
Later in the day, Hodge, a former minister under Tony Blair, submitted a motion calling for Labour MPs to vote on Tuesday that they have “no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as leader.”
The motion has been seconded by Ann Coffey MP.
If passed, the motion would not trigger a leadership contest. That would require 46 Labour MPs to nominate an alternative candidate.The plotters are apparently hoping the vote could rally support among Labour lawmakers.
But Labour MPs do not decide on the leader alone.
Party rules mean members now directly elect the leader. This is why Corbyn won an unprecedented victory last year, thanks to a massive surge of support from grassroots members.
With polls still showing clear support among members for Corbyn, and with the right of the party seemingly unable to unite around a single alternative, Corbyn stands a good chance of winning again.
According to a Sky News correspondent, a person “close to the Labour leader” said they were confident Corbyn would win any new leadership election campaign: “bring it on,” the source reportedly said.
Labour’s shadow international development secretary Diane Abbott told the BBC in May that Corbyn would just win again: “If Jeremy is on the ballot, Jeremy wins. All the polling shows that Jeremy is as popular with Labour Party members now as he was when he was first elected.”
Fake anti-Semitism crisis
According to right-wing press reports, Hodge’s coup plot has been brewing since May.
Hodge is a registered supporter of Labour Friends of Israel, an Israel lobby organization within the party. In the Blair years, it was seen as a must-join group for a sucessful career as a Labour MP, but its influence has been declining for years.
Hodge is a so-called stalking horse candidate. “Margaret is our perfect candidate – she has a lot of gravitas but is also expendable,” one anonymous MP reportedly told The Sun.
The Telegraph said that “at the age of 71,” Hodge is likely to lead the initial charge, later giving way to younger leadership contenders.
According to The Telegraph, Labour’s “ongoing anti-Semitism crisis” is at the center of Hodge’s plot to remove Corbyn.
As covered in detail by The Electronic Intifada, the “crisis” has been almost entirely manufactured, and was based from the outset on fabricated and exaggerated claims of anti-Semitism that were deliberately aimed at smearing Corbyn, the left and the Palestine solidarity movement in general.
However, a poll of Labour Party members in May showed that the vast majority did not believe the media hype about the “crisis.”
The poll showed a rise in support for Corbyn’s leadership after the “crisis” spiked, with 72 percent saying they’d vote for him again.
Only five percent of members polled believed there was a bigger problem with anti-Semitism in Labour than in other parties.
An online petition supporting Corbyn attracted 36,000 signatures within two hours of its launch on Friday.
David Cameron’s announcement that he plans to resign as prime minister following the UK vote to leave the EU has led to growing calls for an early general election.
With Cameron’s ruling Conservatives deeply divided, Labour could offer a clear alternative, provided it was not plunged into its own internal leadership battle.
Yet it appears that Corbyn’s enemies remain focused on seizing on the current political turmoil to push a different agenda.