Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is on the ropes with ten senior shadow cabinet members resigning so far today, while rumours swirl that four more could follow. Heidi Alexander, Ian Murray, Lord Charlie Falconer, Seema Malhotra, Vernon Coaker, Gloria de Piero, Karl Turner, Lilian Greenwood, Lucy Powell and Kerry McCarthy resigned on 26 June following Corbyn's sacking of shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn.
Corbyn sacked Benn in the early hours of 26 June, following reports that he was mounting a coup against the Labour leadership. According to the Guardian, "several" MPs were drafting their resignation letters in the aftermath of the resignation of Alexander, who was shadow health minister.
Shadow Scottish secretary, Ian Murray said Benn's dismissal was the "final straw". In his resignation letter, Murray said: "With the result of the referendum on the European Union, the country faces a deeply challenging time ahead. That demands a strong opposition capable of holding the government to account, helping to secure the best possible deal for Scotland and the UK and building to win any future general election.
"I do not believe that can be achieved under your leadership," Murray added.
While the opposition leader's future looks to be under question, a spokesman for Corbyn told IBTimes UK: "There will be no resignation of a democratically elected leader with a strong mandate."
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has said that he is "deeply disappointed" at Benn's dismissal and "equally saddened" by the resignations. He said that he will meet Corbyn tomorrow to discuss the "way forward" and that his single focus is to "hold the Labour Party together in very turbulent times."
Malhotra's resignation is perhaps the biggest shock as she was seen as a Corbyn loyalist. In her resignation letter, the MP for Feltham and Heston said she does not feel that Corbyn can "build bridges across the party, be the strong official opposition that the country needs or reach out to voters and build confidence in Labour."
Shadow education secretary and MP for Manchester Central Lucy Powell echoed Murray's sentiments. She said she does not believe Corbyn is the man to lead Labour forward amid a very real prospect of an imminent general election. In her resignation letter, Powell said she did not "have the confidence that you can bring the party together, lead us to a general election and be an effective opposition".
Corbyn allies speak out
Despite the mass walkouts, shadow home secretary Andy Burnham has said that he will not quit in a series of tweets. He posted: "At an uncertain time like this for our country, I cannot see how it makes sense for the opposition to plunge itself into a civil war.
"I have never taken part in a coup against any Leader of the Labour Party and I am not going to start now.
"It is for our members to decide who leads our party & 10 months ago they gave Jeremy Corbyn a resounding mandate. I respect that & them."
Other Corbyn allies took to British news networks to defend the Labour leader including Dianne Abbott and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who said his long-time ally and friend "was not going anywhere".
"Some of my colleagues are labouring under the illusion that Jeremy serves as the leader of the opposition at their will and pleasure," Abbott said earlier today. "If they want a new leader of the opposition, we must either have a proper leadership election – and this vote of confidence has no status in the rulebook.
"Or, they set up a new party and go to the speaker with the names of all the MPs who are in the new party and that way they can get a new leader. But it will be a brand new party."
Cat Smith, Labour's MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, has offered her support to Corbyn. She tweeted: "Labour is a democratic socialist party whose members democratically elected Jeremy Corbyn less than a year ago. MPs should respect that."
As members of the shadow cabinet resigned in their numbers, social media users took to Twitter to condemn what they perceive to be disloyal conduct. And surely enough, the hashtag #DeselectThem began trending.