Moderate Labour MPs want veteran MP Alan Johnson to step in as caretaker leader if they manage to oust Jeremy Corbyn .
Four senior sources including members of the shadow cabinet have said they see the former Home Secretary as the best man to unite the party if Mr Corbyn was forced to step down. One shadow cabinet source said it was “a case of when, not if” Mr Corbyn is forced out by disgruntled MPs.
And appearing on the Marr Show, shadow business secretary Angela Eagle twice refused to back Mr Corbyn to lead Labour into the general election. But in a defiant interview to mark his 100th day as Labour leader, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Labour veteran Mr Johnson remains a hugely popular figure and has Blairite credentials from his years serving in New Labour cabinets as Health, Education and finally Home Secretary. He is also loved by grassroots members for his proud working class root,s having worked as a postman and trade union official.However he has previously always declined to run for the leadership and is currently in charge Labour’s campaign to keep Britain in the EU.
But a shadow cabinet member said: “No-one thinks Jeremy is going to last. “The question now is who could come in as a caretaker leader and help unite the party? “Alan has never wanted it before, but if we need someone to step in and save the party then I think that might appeal to him.” Another former frontbencher said: “It has to be Alan. I don’t see anyone else out there who could govern the whole party.”
Mr Corbyn, however, is ready to act against those MPs manoeuvring against him and refused to rule out a reshuffle of his top team next month. “There will be appointments when appointments are made,” he said cryptically. And he slammed those MPs who cheered in the House of Commons this month at Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn’s pro-war speech – seen by some as a rival leadership bid.
“I did not agree with it. I was appalled that MPs should clap, shout and cheer when we were deciding to go and bomb somewhere,” Mr Corbyn said. “Parliament is supposed to be serious. It’s not a place for jingoistic cheering.” But in a further sign of Labour’s shadow cabinet divisions, the leader was quickly slapped down by Ms Eagle. “I think it was genuine admiration for the case that had been made by Hilary Benn,” she said.