This is an update to a report earlier that Labour rebels were considering launching a ‘party-within-a-party’, denying Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, and mounting legal action to take the party’s name and financial assets.
Mr Corbyn has responded as follows:
[Jeremy] Corbyn [has] warned rebel MPs they will never be able to take the Labour party’s name if they force a split.
Responding to reports in the Daily Telegraph that dissenting MPs are preparing to elect their own leader and launch a legal challenge for the party’s name and assets if Smith fails to win the battle for the leadership, Corbyn branded the situation “bizarre”.
He said: “We are getting into some fairly bizarre territory here where unnamed MPs, funded from unnamed sources, are apparently trying to challenge – via the Daily Telegraph, very interesting – the very existence of this party.
“I say to them: ‘think on, and think again’. This party was founded by brave people, pioneers who achieved a great deal, and this party has a huge membership and under the Registration of Parties Act we are the Labour party.
“There’s no alternative, there’s no other party, we are the Labour party, and I’m very proud to be the leader of the Labour party.”
Corbyn denied his leadership could trigger a split, adding: “Sorry, this is nonsense, whoever is saying my leadership is leading to a break-up of the party? Since I became leader membership has doubled, activity has increased.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell urged Smith to condemn “the minority of MPs supporting his campaign who are threatening to subvert the outcome of this election and cause enormous damage to the Labour party”. Smith responded by saying he would not “indulge in gossip”.
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