Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK’s Labour Party, has sacked key shadow cabinet member Hiliary Benn.
Benn was sacked in the early hours of Sunday morning after the Observer newspaper revealed that the shadow foreign secretary was organising a coup against Mr Corbyn.
“It is understood that Benn had called fellow MPs over the weekend to suggest that he would ask Corbyn to stand down if there was significant support for a move against him,” the Observer said “He had also asked shadow cabinet colleagues to join him in resigning if Corbyn ignored that request.”
There are reports that half of Corbyn’s cabinet will resign in protest, while the Labour leader says he will resist any coup.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday, Benn reiterated his stance that Corbyn is “not a leader,” and should resign.
“He is a good and decent man but he is not a leader,” Benn said, though he ruled out making any bid to become head of the party himself.
Members of the shadow cabinet have not reacted well to the sacking of Benn, who was shadow foreign minister. Media reports in the UK say that around half the members of his cabinet are expected to resign in protest.
One of the first to do so was Labour’s health policy chief, Heidi Alexander, who announced she was quitting the shadow cabinet in a letter she posted on Twitter.
“As much as I respect you as a man of principle, I do not believe you have the capacity to shape the answers our country is demanding and I believe that if we are to form the next Government, a change of leadership is essential,” she said.
Gloria De Piero, the shadow minister for Youth Policy was the next to announce she was stepping aside.
Corbyn is remaining defiant, with his office offering the following statement.
“There will be no resignation of a democratically elected leader with a strong mandate from the membership.”
John McDonnell, Labour’s finance spokesman and a Corbyn ally, urged the party to unify behind its leader, saying now was not the time for leadership challenges.
“I know how disappointed people are about the loss of the European referendum, but now is the time we hold together,” he said.
Diane Abbott, another staunch Corbyn supporter, hit out at Benn saying it was wrong to blame the Labour leader for the Leave campaign winning.
“As it happens, 60% of the Labour vote have come out to vote for remain. If Cameron had got a similar proportion of Tory voters, we would have won the referendum,” she said, as cited by the Guardian.