The Labour Party is big – very nearly the biggest socialist party in Europe – but not as big as its leader, it seems.
After a week of backstabbing, psychological warfare, calumny and threats, Jeremy Corbyn has offered rebel Labour MPs a chance to come back into the fold and help forge a new relationship with the European Union after the vote for Brexit on June 23.
It is a huge, symbolic gesture – an offer of amnesty for all, despite the bitterness of the past seven days. Anyone capable of that deserves huge respect, even from those who don’t agree.
Mr Corbyn said the party must work with respect for the British people’s democratic decision – and added that MPs must also respect the democratic decision of the Labour membership to make him the party’s leader.
I am ready to reach out to Labour MPs who didn’t accept my election and oppose my leadership – and work with the whole party to provide the alternative the country needs.
But they also need to respect the democracy of our party and the views of Labour’s membership, which has increased by more than 60,000 in the past week alone.
Our priority must be to mobilise this incredible force to oppose the Tories, and ensure people in Britain have a real political alternative.
Those who want to challenge my leadership are free to do so in a democratic contest, in which I will be a candidate.
But the responsibility of our whole party is to stand up in united opposition to the Tory Government – and in support of decent jobs and pay, affordable housing, rights at work and an economy that works for all.
The whole country needs Labour to heal the divisions of the referendum campaign and offer a winning alternative to the Tories at the next election – whenever it comes.
It is a masterstroke – forcing the rebel MPs to face the fact that they are threatening democracy on two levels and offering them a chance to reconsider, before it is too late.
It is also an ultimatum: Co-operate or challenge.
In the background, the ever-growing ranks of the Labour membership are watching.
And they won’t be as magnanimous as Mr Corbyn if the backstabbers don’t back down.
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