Jeremy Corbyn's allies are already hammering out his succession plans, according to a report in The Telegraph.
One senior shadow cabinet minister reportedly said the pro-Corbyn Momentum campaign group’s actions at the start of Labour’s annual conference in Brighton this weekend were an attempt to “secure the succession” on the basis that “we have passed the high-water mark of Corbynism”.
Another shadow cabinet minister suggested that Jeremy Corbyn was mulling leaving his post:
“He does look as though he’s ready to pack it in,” the frontbencher said.
The shadow minister insisted:
“There is a lot of manoeuvring and conversations in the corridors about what his intentions are.”
“It’s an admission that they think Jeremy is going.”
A source added:
“They clearly think that Jeremy’s position is in peril – one way or another.”
However, a Labour source described the claim as “categorically false”.
Bitter infighting plaguing the Labour party
As a move working towards the succession goal, the grassroots Momentum campaign group stripped Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson of his automatic right to become acting leader if Corbyn quits.
Until last week, Watson would automatically have become acting leader if Corbyn was removed or quit, and would oversee his succession.
Anticipating that the deputy leader could try to grab power from Corbyn’s allies, on Friday night Momentum successfully passed a motion ensuring that the acting leader’s temporary powers “only take effect when her/his appointment has been approved by the NEC”.
The moves were described by allies of Jeremy Corbyn as an attempt to secure the hard-Left’s grasp over the party’s leadership when he departs.
Some of the Labour leader’s allies reportedly accept that another leader would stand a better chance of securing support from rebel Tories as part of attempts to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Senior pro-EU Conservatives ousted from the parliamentary party earlier this month had reportedly told Labour that at least 18 of their 21-strong group would refuse to back Corbyn in a Commons confidence vote.
The ex-Tories floated such names as Kenneth Clarke or Harriet Harman to temporarily succeed Boris Johnson and ensure a Brexit extension and possible second referendum ahead of a general election.
The Telegraph quoted a source from Momentum as saying:
“No one person is more important than beating Boris Johnson, ending austerity and tackling the climate emergency. We just can’t afford to go into an election with a deputy leader set on wrecking Labour’s chances.”
Dwindling faith in Labour election win
Earlier on Saturday night it emerged that Andrew Fisher, Jeremy Corbyn’s head of policy, had resigned.
In a memo to colleagues he cited a “lack of professionalism, competence and human decency” among the Labour leader’s team and said he had lost faith that the party would win an election, The Sunday Times reported.
After the Commons returns, senior Tories expect a vote of no confidence in the last 10 days of October.
Senior Labour figures admitted the leadership had concluded Jeremy Corbyn would be unable to serve as interim prime minister before an election even if Boris Johnson resigned or was removed with the support of former Tories seeking to avert a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.
In events set for this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on course for talks with Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, and other EU leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Johnson is making a last-ditch attempt to secure a new Brexit deal before legislation kicks in on 19 October which would require him to seek an extension from the EU.