Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to stave off a leadership challenge from former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle after peace talks to bridge the Labour divide ended in failure. The party is facing its second leadership battle in less than a year after Eagle said she would launch a bid on Monday, 11 July.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson had reportedly asked Eagle and former shadow environment secretary Owen Smith to refrain from launching a leadership campaign in an effort to find a solution. But Eagle said she would announce her candidacy after Watson ended the talks with unions. Watson insisted "there is no realistic prospect of reaching a compromise" while Corbyn remains determined to hang on as the party chief.
A spokesman for the opposition leader said Watson's decision to walk away from the table was disappointing. He said: "Jeremy Corbyn has reached out to Labour MPs and made clear he wants to work with them to carry out his role as elected leader of the party.
"Jeremy regards the talks with trade union leaders as a vehicle to bring people together, and it is disappointing that some have walked away from them," the spokesman told the Press Association.
"Jeremy is committed to fulfilling all his responsibilities as democratically elected leader and will not betray the hundreds of thousands of people who elected him for a different direction for the Labour Party and a different kind of politics," he added.
"He continues to be fully committed to working with the Parliamentary Labour Party and is ready to talk with as many people as necessary to assist that process, discussing policy initiatives and listening to ideas.
"He will remain leader of the Labour Party and will contest any leadership challenge if one is mounted."
Last month Corbyn was confronted with mass resignations and subsequently faced a vote of no confidence, which he lost by a huge margin. The secret ballot saw 172 MPs go against the party leader, compared to just 40 who backed him.
Eagle accused Corbyn of failing to "fulfil his first and foremost duty, that is to lead an organised and effective Parliamentary Labour Party that can both hold the government to account and demonstrate we are ready to form a government in the event of a general election". The MP for Wallasey said that she will set out her "vision for the country and the difference a strong Labour Party can make".
A defiant Corbyn received a warm welcome at the Durham Miners' Gala on 9 July where he was cheered by thousands of people. Addressing a huge crowd estimated to number around 150,000 people, Corbyn said: "There is no pressure on me. The real pressure is when you don't have enough to feed your kids or have a roof over your head."
The general secretary of the Durham Miners Association (DMA) said reports of rebel MPs being banned from the event were untrue. "Labour MPs who refused to support Jeremy Corbyn in the recent vote of confidence have not been banned or barred from attending this year's gala. The gala is a public event which anyone can attend," Dave Hopper was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"However, the invitations to attend the official Durham Miners' Association events and functions, stand on the balcony of the County Hotel and grace the platform on the racecourse have been rescinded."
"We will not allow those who have sought to humiliate him [Jeremy Corbyn] and undermine the democratic process in the Labour Party the honour of taking part in the aforementioned gala traditions," he added.