JEREMY CORBYN vowed yesterday to “heal the divisions” left by a bitter referendum campaign that claimed the scalp of David Cameron and sparked a Blairite coup against his own leadership.
Mr Corbyn said only his party could bring Britain back together following a shock Leave vote that had sparked a Tory leadership contest before breakfast.
And unions representing nearly four million workers swung behind the Labour leader, urging party MPs not to indulge in a “manufactured” leadership contest.
“Labour is best placed to reunite the country,” Mr Corbyn wrote in a statement after an emergency shadow cabinet meeting.
“We can do so because we didn’t engage in project fear and because we share people’s dissatisfaction with the status quo.
“The Prime Minister has resigned and the Tories are deeply divided at a time when the country needs to come together and we need stability to head off economic crisis.”
The PM fell on his sword as Britain woke to the bombshell news that voters had chosen by a 52-48 margin to break ties with Brussels after 43 years.
In a hastily arranged resignation speech outside 10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron, his voice cracking with emotion, announced he would step aside before the next Conservative Party conference in October.
Behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings of Tory leadership hopefuls, headed by Boris Johnson and Theresa May, will erupt into open warfare in the coming weeks.
Mr Corbyn’s emphasis on stability also comes after two backbenchers tabled a motion of no confidence in his leadership after they tried to pin the blame on him for the result.
Dame Margaret Hodge submitted the motion, seconded by Ann Coffey, to the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Most of Ms Hodge’s Barking constituents voted to leave.
“Leaders have to take responsibility and he has to take his share of responsibility for this, and he should resign,” said Stockport MP Ms Coffey.
The MPs hope the motion, which would be non-binding but hugely disruptive, will be discussed at a PLP meeting on Monday night and submitted to a secret ballot on Tuesday.
But the Star understands that any discussion could be delayed because Labour rules require motions to be circulated at least seven days in advance of a meeting.
Labour MP Grahame Morris said: “These are incredible circumstances but the rules are there. It might be a good thing for people to reflect on this over the course of a week.
“I think it was inevitable, whatever the results, that some people would seek to do that. I think they’re just looking for any opportunity really.”
There were also reports that MPs on Labour’s right were beginning to gather the 51 signatures needed from MPs and MEPs to trigger a fresh leadership election.
The plotters hope to replace Mr Corbyn by September so they’d be in place for a snap general election that is may be called by the new Tory leader.
But senior party figures and unions urged colleagues to rally round Mr Corbyn and take advantage of the Tory crisis.
Deputy leader Tom Watson said Labour should “provide stability in a period of great instability for our country.”
And the general secretaries of a dozen Labour-affiliated unions said the party needed to “unite as a source of national stability and unity” in the absence of a “government that puts the people first.”
The statement — backed by Unite, Unison, GMB, CWU, Ucatt, TSSA, Aslef, FBU, Musicians Union, Bectu, BFAWU and NUM — said that Labour “should focus on speaking up for jobs and workers’ rights under threat and on challenging any attempt to use the referendum result to introduce a more right-wing Tory government by the backdoor.
“The last thing Labour needs is a manufactured leadership row of its own in the midst of this crisis and we call upon all Labour MPs not to engage in any such indulgence.
A petition expressing confidence in Mr Corbyn’s leadership on the 38 Degrees website had over 80,000 signatures as the Star went to press.