'Substantial number' of Labour MPs wouldn't support Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister

A 'substantial minority' of Labour MPs wouldn't support Jeremy Corbyn being Prime Minister, Chuka Umunna has claimed (Picture: REUTERS/Simon Dawson)

A “substantial minority” of Labour MPs would not support Jeremy Corbyn being Prime Minister, Chuka Umunna has claimed.

Mr Umunna, a former Labour and Change UK MP and now a Liberal Democrat, said he had spoken to a number of Labour MPs would “simply would not countenance” the party’s leader becoming PM.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The problem there is with the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn taking up the role of leading an emergency government is he cannot command a majority among his own MPs, never mind others like Conservative rebels who would refuse to give him confidence.

“I know, because I have spoken to them, there is a substantial minority of Labour MPs at the very least who simply would not countenance Jeremy Corbyn being the prime minister of this country.

“So the question is, is there a figure who, as an alternative, could command a majority?”

Mr Umunna’s comments come as Jeremy Corbyn has called on Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to rule that Boris Johnson cannot go ahead with a no-deal Brexit if there is a general election.

He said it would be an "unprecedented, unconstitutional and anti-democratic abuse of power".

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According to reports Mr Johnson could try to hang on to make sure Britain leaves the EU before going to the polls if he is defeated in a vote of confidence when MPs return in September.

If he is defeated in a no-confidence motion he would have 14 days, under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, to win another vote of confidence or, if no other government could be formed, face a general election.

Chuka Umunna made the comments to BBC Radio 4's Today programme (Picture: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

In his letter to Sir Mark, Mr Corbyn wrote: "Forcing through no-deal against a decision of Parliament, and denying the choice to the voters in a general election already under way, would be an unprecedented, unconstitutional and anti-democratic abuse of power by a Prime Minister elected not by the public but by a small number of unrepresentative Conservative Party members.

"A Labour government will never support a no-deal exit, so would of course want the opportunity to take a different view."

Officials said Sir Mark would be reply to Mr Corbyn, but senior Conservatives dismissed the letter as a "political stunt".

A senior Conservative source said: "Jeremy Corbyn will do anything to get his hand on the keys to number 10.

"No amount of letter-writing political stunts will change the fact that politicians don't get to choose which public votes they respect."

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