Brexit: Could Labor Rebels form a new party?

Jeremy Corbynimage rights
PA

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Union leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to Theresa May outlining his party's demands for support for a Brexit deal

You will be used to people in my job saying things like "these are critical days".

And hands up, on many occasions, when a big move is predicted, often a damp explosive comes to quell the expectation.

What I want to say now could be a repetition of this familiar phenomenon. But I'm not the only person in Westminster who wondered this week, after many, many, many months of private talks discussing this possibility, in the next few weeks, maybe even in the next few days, that is something it's actually critical, it's about to start.

It is no secret that since the election of Jeremy Corbyn many of his deputies were dissatisfied with his leadership style and had come into conflict with his ideology.

Those who challenged him were thoroughly beaten by the many Labor members who supported his cause.

And since the 2017 elections were better for him than many in Labor could ever imagine, his own MPs' public attacks on him were much more restrained, with even his most bitter rivals keeping their criticisms to the main. The often-predicted splintering of the party has never happened.

But the boiling pot of Brexit and the repeated concerns about anti-Semitism within the party mean that this could really change.

Moment of decision

It is no secret that a small group of Labor MPs have been debating for many months whether and when to leave the party and when and how.

For every MP this is a big decision. For many of them, their political party, regardless of their tribe, is part of their family, certainly a big part of their lives.

But there is a growing expectation that under pressure a small group of Labor MPs will be ready to say goodbye, and very soon.

Of course, the misfortune with the Labor leadership is not new. But the moment of the decision might have come because some of the members of the small group who intended to leave felt they were staying in a party they found hostile to individuals while they had the opportunity to use the Brexit policy to influence.

But as the final crash over Brexit approaches, Jeremy Corbyn's stance on another referendum remains the same – obviously not thrilled – and her frustration reaches new levels.

And if they can not persuade him to support another vote, it makes sense for them to defend a policy they do not believe in. In a party that they believe is no longer hers.

United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union membership referendum showdown

This is also true for some of the participants, the threat of deselection, which would certainly displace them from their seats, is very real.

They would prefer to go to Brexit on a more fundamental level than to stay with the threat of being forced by their own side.

So it's not impossible for the long-discussed breakaway group to actually break before the final Brexit showdown.

Fascinatingly, some members of the Shadow Cabinet say it would be a really big blow. Others basically say "something like that".

And that does not mean there's a new party ready to jump out of the box.

Nor does it mean that the political environment in which Westminster operates radically changes and suddenly changes.

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AFP

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A number of Labor MPs are supporting the People's Vote campaign for another referendum

Of course, this can not happen at all.

Some of the participants have talked as if it would inevitably happen in the last 24 hours, and maybe in the next few days. Others are far more reserved and set expectations.

However, there is a noticeable feeling among those who have been discussing the withdrawal for many months, that if they ever do, the moment will come soon, maybe very, very soon.

For those who had a long time to come, enough can now have been enough.

Brexit has always had the potential to redraw political lines beyond a period of unrest in Parliament. As the parliamentary turmoil nears its peak, the permanent lines may actually break.