Belfast Telegraph

Who will have the guts to split the Labour Party in order to reinvent it?

Jeremy Corbyn is coming under increasing criticism, but do his critics have what it takes to pull the party back from the brink?

By Chris Moncrieff

Is the Labour Party slowly, but remorselessly losing faith in its leader Jeremy Corbyn? There never was a full-on love affair between leader and party. But even moderates eventually realised they would have to learn to live with this hard-Left socialist.

Corbyn's election as leader to replace Ed Miliband surprised everyone, Conservative and Labour MPs alike, as well as the straggling hangers-on, like the depleted Liberal Democrats.

The Tories were delighted because they assumed - quite wrongly - that Corbyn would be a push-over and would lead Labour to where it does not wish to go.

Well, he is certainly leading them - shall we say - astray, but he is the reverse of a pushover. He has easily survived two attempts to boot him out. So, although it is easy to talk about ousting him, it is far harder to achieve that. He has shown no sign of budging - and why should he?

His shadow Cabinet changes - some of its members being forced out and others quitting in despair - have been a shambles.

Corbyn's latest sacking, that of Owen Smith as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has been denounced by Lord Hain, a former Secretary of State, as "Stalinist". Smith's "crime" was to hold an off-message view about Brexit. Corbyn has had a rocky ride as Labour's leader so far, but suddenly the potholes are getting bigger and bumpier and distinctly more perilous.

His alleged anti-Semitism - hotly denied - has led to something louder than mere mutterings of discontent among Labour moderates.

And his strange reaction to the news of the expulsion of scores of Russian diplomats from embassies around the world left some Labour MPs noisily gulping with disbelief during his exchanges with the Prime Minister in the Commons.

It will take more than the hardline Momentum group campaigners to restore faith and trust in their leader.

Perhaps the only course open to his critics, who have had more than enough of him, is to resign the party whip and form their own, more traditional-style breakaway Labour Party.

And, so, to misquote an old cliche: "If you can't beat 'em, leave 'em."

Congratulations to the Prime Minister, who has achieved so much towards Brexit without shouting, stamping her feet, or brandishing her handbag about.

Her performance has been all the more commendable in that, at the referendum, she voted to Remain, but is now loyally carrying out the wishes of the majority of British voters at that referendum.

That is a lesson some of the other Remainers should have learnt. As Churchill said: "A one-vote majority is enough."

I had thought, at one stage, that Britain needed a more robust and aggressive Thatcher-style approach to these negotiations, but have been proved wrong.

May and her sidekick David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, conducted an admirably undramatic campaign in the face of the leaden-browed, obdurate Brussels negotiators, who seemed hell-bent on punishing Britain and squeezing every possible penny out of the UK for its "effrontery" in adopting this course.

Nor has she been helped by the hoary old guard of Blair, Mandelson, Patten, Heseltine, Vince Cable, et al, who have been predicting doom and destruction from start to finish.

The idea that Britain is incapable of going it alone, without being propped up by the political Zimmer Frame of the EU, is anathema to most British people.

As the former Foreign Secretary George Brown used to say: "We are on our way, brothers."

My suggestion that parliament should move to York for the six years it will take to renovate the Palace of Westminster before it crumbles at our feet has been far from well received in some quarters.

One correspondent suggested that the "old mausoleum" at Westminster should be pulled down and redesigned afresh by some brutalist architect.

What? I may be a sentimental old buffer, but to destroy that building, whose walls, corridors and very existence are indelibly imbued with history, would be the worst piece of vandalism I could imagine.

There has already been more than enough of the abolition of various bits of centuries' old tradition without adding the "crime" of demolishing the Palace of Westminster.

All these traditions may seem ludicrous to the modernisers, but there is invariably a piece of fascinating history and a reason attached to them.

We should not be dishonouring our ancestors by jettisoning what they have left us.

Boris Johnson for Prime Minister? Stanley Johnson, father of the Foreign Secretary, can think of no better choice for the job. Well, he would, wouldn't he?

Some would say that Boris is too much of a clown to be in 10 Downing Street. Be that as it may.

But I think the question which really has to be asked is whether he can be trusted with the purse strings.

Remember, as Mayor of London, he spent oodles of public money on water cannons from Germany without having the gumption first to ask the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, whether she would allow them to be used against rioters on London's streets. She said: "No." So, that was money flushed down the drain.

And the bendy buses - some of which burst into flames and all of which were a bonanza for fare-dodgers - were not exactly the product of a genius. They have all gone to Malta now, where they have been causing problems, too.

Boris is eminently amusing, abhors Whitehallese and is always listened to. Let's leave it at that and no further.

Belfast Telegraph

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