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‘I have huge support’: Corbyn to attack rebels and defend leadership | Politics News



Jeremy Corbyn will defend his leadership of the Labour Party after nine of his MPs quit in a single week.

The MPs became independents amid concerns over his approach to Brexit, allegations of antisemitism within Labour, and concern over the direction he is taking the party in.

Amid intense speculation of further resignations, Mr Corbyn will tell supporters that he won “huge support” at the 2017 general election, and he will attack Labour defectors who have joined disaffected Tories to form an independent group.

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In full: Corbyn on resignations, bullying within Labour and Brexit plans

At a rally in the Broxtowe constituency of Anna Soubry, one of the Conservatives who joined the new group, the Labour leader is expected to say: “Over the last few years, Labour’s membership has grown dramatically and set our party on a new course. I understand why that has been difficult for some.

“As leader of the party it’s necessary of course to listen to the concerns of our MPs as well as our members and affiliates.

“I’m disappointed that a small number of Labour MPs have decided to leave our party and join forces with disaffected Tories, who say they have no problem with austerity that has plunged thousands into desperate poverty and insecurity.”

Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry (front row left to right) join their new Independents Group colleagues

What do people make of Jeremy Corbyn as a leader after wave of resignations?

Ms Soubry kept hold of the Broxtowe constituency with a slim majority of just 863 at the last election.

Mr Corbyn will be joined by shadow chancellor John McDonnell, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon at Saturday’s event.

Anna Soubry said the campaign was 'winning the argument'
Anna Soubry only holds a slim majority

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who warned the party needs to change after the resignations broke, is not expected to take part in the rally.

On Friday, Mr Corbyn denied bullying exists on a “wide scale” in Labour, telling Sky News there was “no place for harshness, bullying or anything else in the party”.

He added: “And to tell you the truth, I don’t believe it exists on a wide scale.

“Where there is bad behaviour, we deal with it. Where there is a problem, we deal with it.”

Tom Watson has said Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg has shown 'contempt for parliamentary democracy'
Tom Watson has said the party must make changes

Suggestions by his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, that Labour needed to move “quicker and fiercer” against antisemitism were also not endorsed.

“We do it as quickly as we can, but there has to be fairness involved with it,” he said.

The 11 Independent Group MPs
The Independent Group is made up of former Labour and Conservative MPs

Ian Austin became the ninth MP to quit Labour on Friday – condemning Mr Corbyn’s failure to tackle antisemitism, and claiming he was unfit to be prime minister.

Unlike the others, he will not sit as part of the new Independent Group, which backs a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

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