As tension within the Labour Party grows, some moderate MPs have begun to plot against Jeremy corbyn, elected as party leader in September 2015. They reportedly plan to sue the Labour Party for the right to use its name if Corbyn is elected, and Owen Smith defeated, in the upcoming leadership contest. This dissident group of MPs plans to form a parliamentary bloc to rival the incumbent party for the position of official opposition to the Conservative government. However, Corbyn has argued that there is no alternative to the Labour Party in its current form, as he denied that his leadership would trigger a split.

'Bizarre' plans

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has called for Owen Smith, competing against Corbyn for leadership, to condemn any and all attempts to split the party, as Corbyn called this latest plan ‘bizarre’. Moderate MPs who support Smith over Corbyn would consider going through the courts to obtain the right to use the party’s name and also its assets, including property owned by the party. This would create a ‘party within a party’ as rebels look to set up their own ‘alternate Labour’. Following this, Mr. Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, would have to decide which group or groups became the official opposition.

'Unnamed MPs, funded from unnamed sources'

Corbyn, rallying in Leeds, called those behind this latest plan, some in very senior positions, ‘unnamed MPs, funded from unnamed sources’.

Indeed one unnamed Corbyn critic claimed that it would help to avoid a full party split. However, these plans arguably reflect concerns that Smith will struggle to beat Corbyn in the leadership election, as Corbyn himself told the rebels to ‘think on, and think again’. Critics of Corbyn within the party have dismissed him as unelectable; however, to split the party between those supporting and those rallying against him would be utterly detrimental to Labour’s ability to effectively oppose the Conservative government. Corbyn is the democratically elected leader, and thus any split away from his leadership would undermine the democracy that Labour works to protect.