Senior members of the shadow cabinet have told The Londoner that they understand Jeremy Corbyn would like to step down as leader of the Labour Party.
The sources say that a number of those around the leader are also of the view that Corbyn, who is 70 in May, would like to pass on the reins of his surprisingly successful socialist project.
One member of the shadow cabinet told us: “He’s tired and fed up.” Another: “Corbyn is ready to step down. He wants to step down.”
The talk comes as Corbyn has come under increasing political pressure over his handling of the anti-Semitism crisis and Brexit.
Although a fit cyclist and teetotal vegetarian, Corbyn is known to survive long days with naps and takes days in lieu if he works on a Sunday. In 2017, he stressed the importance of work-life balance and said he would not give up his allotment if he became PM. “There’s a need for everyone in life to balance what they do, however stressful or important their job is”.
This is not the first time there has been speculation about Corbyn’s future: whispers followed the EU referendum and Labour leadership election in 2016. In early 2017, with Labour rock bottom in the polls, Len McCluskey, one of Corbyn’s strongest supporters, said Corbyn and John McDonnell were “not egomaniacs” and “not desperate to cling on to power for power’s sake”.
This morning official Labour sources denied Corbyn was pondering an exit.
“Somebody has been eating too much cheese, or something harder,” one said, adding, “His diary is packed full. He does a lot more late nights than early mornings: meetings, engagements, receptions. He’ll be at the Kebab Awards tonight.”
They said Corbyn was “fit and healthy”: “The person that walks up the stairs instead of taking the lift.”
If Corbyn stays on and Labour wins the 2022 election, he would be the oldest prime minister at first appointment ever. However, another source adds: “Jeremy is the first to admit that he’s not going to be around for ever.”
*Although it has been reported that Corbyn takes lieu days, a spokesman from the leader’s office contacted the Londoner this afternoon to say the claim was “utter nonsense”.