For the first time in history, it looks as though the UK will spend the next two months finding a new leader for both the Conservative and Labour parties.
With the political landscape rapidly changing, Labour are at a stalemate. Worst case scenario for the rebels in the Parliamentary party, Corbyn will be elected again by the party members and they will be stuck with him in the case of a snap election.
Following the Sunday and Monday’s resignations, Labour held an anonymous vote of no confidence on Tuesday evening. The motion was passed by MPs with a 172 – 40 vote. This means that if Corbyn were not already leader of the party, he would not have enough support from Labour MPs (20%) to stand in a leadership election.
As it currently stands, in the case of an election for leader where there is no vacancy, the incumbent is automatically on the ballot paper along with the challenger(s). But who will be joining Corbyn? Current favourite is Angela Eagle.
WILL CORBYN CLING ON?
While thousands, many of them young people, gathered outside Westminster last night, to demonstrate their support for the EU, Corbyn confirmed he would not step down, stating: “I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning”.
Despite Labour MEPs, former Labour leaders Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, and The Mirror and Metro urging him to resign, it does not seem as though Corbyn is going anywhere without a (fair, democratic) fight. It is now a battle between the Parliamentarians and the Corbinites for the grassroots votes. The ability to rally the 13,000 new labour members and encourage more to sign up is crucial.
TORY CANDIDATES AND SNAP ELECTIONS
But how likely is a snap election? As we have said previously, this will depend on the polls in September and October regarding the level of support for the new Tory leader and the public opposition to another election.
It will be a decision for the new leader, and some of the likely candidates have already indicated their current opinion. Stephen Crabb, who launched his bid yesterday for the Tory leadership, promised no such thing. Meanwhile, a source in Boris’s team has said he will not hold a snap election if he becomes leader. Nicky Morgan, Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox are all still considering their options before nominations open this evening.
POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS
The vacuum of political leadership created by these two contests represents a significant opportunity for others to fill. The last few days have seen a concerted SNP diplomatic effort in Brussels, and 10,000 new members for the Liberal Democrats, with both parties seeking to seize the initiative. Nigel Farage has also stated his intention to go after the brexit voters in traditional Labour heartlands. So an Autumn General Election could produce a very different political landscape indeed. Public Affairs professionals in house and in agency can continue to watch the spectacle unfold over the next 12 weeks, before preparing to update their stakeholder matrix.