Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will meet his deputy Tom Watson on Monday (27 June) in a bid to stem an unfolding party crisis which has seen 11 members — or one third — of his shadow cabinet quit or be shown the door in 24 hours, following the referendum result on Thursday (23 June) in favour of leaving the EU.
Corbyn loyalists continue to insist he is the right man to steer the party through choppy waters ahead despite many members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) calling for a new leader.
The high-profile Watson, seen by many as the obvious choice to succeed Corbyn, refused to endorse his boss this afternoon, hours after being spotted partying at the Glastonbury festival. Watson issued a seemingly innocuous statement more revealing for what it didn't say than for what it did.
Expressing his disappointment over the sacking of Hilary Benn - which led to the resignation of 10 colleagues - Watson spoke of the need for effective opposition in turbulent times — yet failed to anoint Corbyn as the man to lead that opposition.
Watson's statement read: "I was deeply disappointed to see Hilary Benn sacked in the early hours of this morning and equally saddened that so many talented, able and hard-working colleagues felt they had to leave the shadow cabinet. My single focus is to hold the Labour party together in very turbulent times. The nation needs an effective opposition, particularly as the current leadership of the country is so lamentable. It's very clear to me that we are heading for an early general election and the Labour party must be ready to form a government. There's much work to do. I will be meeting Jeremy Corbyn tomorrow morning to discuss the way forward."
Although Corbyn has some loyal backers - including John McDonnell and Diane Abbott - many members of the PLP claim he failed to campaign effectively to persuade traditional Labour voters of the need to remain within the EU.
Phil Wilson MP, who chairs the Labour in for Britain Group, goes further. Writing for The Guardian, he claims Corbyn's office actually sabotaged the Labour Remain campaign and now Corbyn must resign for what he calls "the greatest betrayal."
Monday (27 June) looks set to be another long haul for Labour as Corbyn prepares to meet Watson, while PLP will also convene to discuss the way forward. However, Corbyn's hectic schedule could have been worse. According to ITV's political correspondent, Chris Ship, the shadow cabinet won't be meeting — because there hasn't been time to fill the vacant posts.