To the rescue? 60,000 join Labour in 1 week as party’s MPs launch anti-Corbyn coup

Leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech to supporters at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in central London on June 29, 2016. © Niklas Hallen
Tens of thousands of new supporters have joined the Labour Party in the past week, despite two thirds of the Parliamentary party launching a coup against left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour Party officials claim that 60,000 new members have joined the party since the EU referendum results were announced last Friday.

The figure is said to represent one of the fastest rises in membership of any political party in British history.

The surge puts Labour’s new total member base at 450,000 – higher than its last peak of 440,000 under former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

This figure dwarfs other political parties in the UK, with the Liberal Democrats currently fairing at around 70,000 members and the last available Conservative membership figures putting the total at 134,000.

Of the new intake, 20,000 have been checked and more than half are said to have joined to support Corbyn in a potential leadership challenge.

Momentum has claimed that thousands of new recruits marked their membership forms with support for the leader.

However, a source working to recruit “progressive” MPs to counter the Corbyn-inspired Momentum movement told the Independent they are confident thousands of new members want to see the Labour leader removed.

Centrist ‘Blairite’ groups such as Labour First and Progress are understood to be working with grassroots campaigners to encourage new members who want to see a new leader.

The coup was mounted after the Labour leader sacked shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn for organizing a secret plot on WhatsApp to oust Corbyn.

Following his dismissal in the early hours of Sunday morning, Labour shadow cabinet members resigned hourly throughout the day in order to dominate the news headlines.

More than 50 of the shadow cabinet have now resigned and 172 Labour MPs said in a secret ballot that they had no confidence in Corbyn. Some 40 MPs backed the beleaguered leader.

Despite the Parliamentary Labour Party’s (PLP) attempts to oust Corbyn, more than 240 local Labour councilors signed a letter pledging their continued support for him.

The 246 councilors said they are “dismayed” with MPs actions in the wake of the EU referendum result.

It would be utterly self-defeating for the people we represent if now, less than a year after Jeremy was elected on the single biggest mandate of any previous leader, he was to be forced from office,” the letter reads.

It is our view that the behaviour of some members of the Parliamentary Labour Party is totally self-indulgent and at odds with what the communities we represent need.

We will risk losing all those new members and enthusiastic campaigners who joined us because Jeremy offered a vision of hope for the future.”