Jeremy Corbyn has refused to resign as Labour leader after the party's MPs voted overwhelming for a motion of 'no confidence' against him. More than 80%, or 172 Labour MPs, reportedly backed the non-binding motion, while 40 voted against it and four abstained in a secret ballot.

A Labour spokesperson said: "Following the ballot conducted today, the Parliamentary Labour Party has accepted the following motion: That this PLP has no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party."

The result comes after Corbyn faced mass resignations from his Shadow Cabinet in protest against his decision to sack Hilary Benn as Shadow Foreign Secretary – this followed the EU referendum which saw Labour heartlands across England and Wales vote Leave at the 23 June ballot.

"In the aftermath of last week's referendum, our country faces major challenges. Risks to the economy and living standards are growing. The public is divided," Corbyn said minutes after the vote. "The government is in disarray. Ministers have made it clear they have no exit plan, but are determined to make working people pay with a new round of cuts and tax rises.

"Labour has the responsibility to give a lead where the government will not. We need to bring people together, hold the Government to account, oppose austerity and set out a path to exit that will protect jobs and incomes.

The left-winger added: "To do that we need to stand together. Since I was elected leader of our party nine months ago, we have repeatedly defeated the government over its attacks on living standards.

"Last month, Labour become the largest party in the local elections. In Thursday's referendum, a narrow majority voted to leave, but two thirds of Labour supporters backed our call for a remain vote.

"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. Today's vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.

"We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country."

The move means the Labour parliamentary party will have to trigger a formal leadership contest to oust Corbyn, who secured almost 60% of the vote in Labour's 2015 leadership election. Senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper today (28 June) failed to rule out a leadership bid. "I'm not ruling anything out, but I'm not standing here launching any campaign," Cooper told journalists.

But she was only able to attract over 12% of the vote last September, while Andy Burnham received 26% and Corbyn secured 58%. Major trade unions Unite and Unison, two of Labour's biggest donors, have also thrown their support behind Corbyn.