Belfast Telegraph

Chris Moncrieff: If you think that the Tories are a shambles, then look at the crisis that is engulfing the Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn is widely seen as a liability rather than as an asset as the leader of the Opposition, writes Chris Moncrieff

Embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

By Chris Moncrieff

The Conservative Party may be in a turmoil over the leadership elections, but the Labour Party is in even worse trouble, if anything. Leader Jeremy Corbyn is coming under increased fire from many of Labour's backroom boys - including some former party heavyweights - who do not believe Labour can ever be elected into government so long as Corbyn is at the helm.

This is despite Corbyn's relative and surprising success at the recent general election, called gratuitously by Prime Minister Theresa May, even though the party had at least an overall majority over its opponents beforehand.

That majority was lost and the Tories had to fall back on support from the DUP in a bid to get their business through - not an altogether successful operation.

Most of Corbyn's lieutenants in Parliament are supporting him wholeheartedly, but with the trouble arising elsewhere he must now feel less safe in the job than he was, say, a year ago.

There have already been resignations from the shadow Cabinet and from the party itself because of Corbyn's leadership, so it looks as though urgent action needs to be taken at the top to restore Labour's popularity at Westminster and beyond.

Corbyn has suffered - and survived - two major attempts to oust him from the leadership, but has made clear he will stick to his guns come rain or shine.

When the Tory leadership battle is over, we shall perhaps get a clearer idea of the situation at the top of the Labour Party and Corbyn's prospects for survival at the helm now.

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So far the Foreign Office is taking a surprisingly lenient view of the outburst by the British ambassador in Washington's strictures on the "inept" state of the American administration in the White House.

It is all very well top diplomats having private views on these issues, but it is careless - unless it was intended, of course - to allow those views to enter the public domain.

Last night Mr Trump hit out at the ambassador after the leak of the sensitive diplomatic messages painting an unflattering assessment of his administration.

The President said Sir Kim Darroch had "not served the UK well" and his administration were "not big fans" of the envoy.

Ann Widdecombe, one of the new Brexit MEPs elected to the European Parliament, joined her colleagues in turning their backs on the parliament when the EU anthem was being sung. If that is not an example of childish, fourth form behaviour then I don't know what is.

Widdecombe, who once attacked her former boss, the ex-Home Secretary Michael Howard, in the Commons, told me: "We are all grown-ups now."

But this act of infantile defiance made it clear that these "grown-up" politicians have a lot of work to do before they reach adulthood in a political sense.

They have already wasted public money in fighting for these seats and the British taxpayer will not be amused by this latest example of grown-ups behaving, pointlessly, like school children.

Boris Johnson seems to be heading for the leadership of the Conservative Party and, ultimately, becoming Prime Minister.

It is not all done and dusted yet, of course, although it would be a bold gambler who risked his life savings on Jeremy Hunt getting the job.

There is little doubt that Johnson's premiership - should it take place - will transform the face of the Conservative Party, although he will have great difficulty, as did Theresa May, to secure a parliamentary majority for a reasonable departure arrangement for Britain from the European Union.

I suspect that, if he takes over the reins, one of the first people to suffer from his leadership will be present Chancellor Philip Hammond, who has been critical throughout the campaign about Johnson's approach to the job.

But I suspect there will be other casualties, too, when Johnson finally takes up residence at Number 10.

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