Already things aren’t looking good for opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Party veteran Alan Johnson announced this afternoon that he will not stand in the General Election on 8 June. The former cabinet minister has held a seat in Parliament since 1997.
He followed in the footsteps of MP Tom Blenkinsop, who drew blood just minutes after Mrs May’s announcement, stating that he would not seek re-election for his Middlesborough South and East Cleveland constituency.
I will not be standing for re-election https://t.co/i9RlO4OTUX
— Tom Blenkinsop (@TomBlenkinsop) April 18, 2017
He said: ‘I have made no secret about my significant and irreconcilable differences with the current Labour leadership. It is because of these differences I feel I cannot in good faith stand as the Labour candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.’
Another Labour MP told PoliticsHome that an ‘exodus’ of Labour backbenchers and long-time veterans could be following in Mr Blenkinsop’s footsteps.
The source said: ‘I think you’ll see an exodus of Labour MPs – before and after the election.
‘Lots of colleagues are now thinking about their future, or as in many cases, the lack of it.
‘Lots will stand down ahead of near-certain defeat or because Jeremy has made the atmosphere inside the party so miserable
‘And of course the sad fact is very many decent hardworking colleagues are set to lose their seat thanks to Jeremy and his allies.’
The Labour chief has endured months of accusations – from within his own party as well as from oppositions – that he is ‘unelectable’.
And now the noise around his party suggests that he doesn’t have a hope of winning against Mrs May’s Tory party come June.
On Twitter, the outlook for Mr Corbyn looked bleak.
If Corbyn cared for the Labour party over himself, he'd let a different leader fight May. But he doesn't so we're screwed.
— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) April 18, 2017
More chance of Ian Paisley Jr becoming next Pope than Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister Tactical voting essential to stop Tory landslide
— Michael Mullaney (@miketmullaney) April 18, 2017
Jeremy Corbyn launches his GE campaign…. pic.twitter.com/sFfS6bFIxW
— Ed Sweetman (@humanpilot) April 18, 2017
The polls weren’t much kinder. YouGov asked the country whether Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn would make the better Prime Minister.
Here is our tracker on who would make the best PM since May took over in July last year. Latest results: May 50%, Corbyn 14%, not sure 36% pic.twitter.com/OQBVjLaosL
— YouGov (@YouGov) April 18, 2017
Mrs May took victory with 50%, whereas Mr Corbyn managed to come third in a two-horse race. He won 14% of the vote, while 36% favoured ‘don’t know’.
As of 15 April, ComRes put the Tories 21 points ahead of Labour.
— ComRes (@ComRes) April 15, 2017
With evidence pointing to a painful Labour loss, Mr Corbyn still refused to be drawn into questioning about his own future as party leader.
Asked by Sky News whether he would quit in the event of an election defeat, he replied: ‘We are campaigning to win this election, that’s the only question now.’
In his initial statement responding to Mrs May’s surprise move, Mr Corbyn said: ‘I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.
‘Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.’“In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain.’