ED MILIBAND has called on successor Jeremy Corbyn to quit as Labour leader, saying his position is “untenable”.
The former party leader said he had supported Mr Corbyn “all the way along” but urged the Opposition leader to now reflect on what is “the right thing for the country”.
Britain is facing its worst crisis since the Second World War, Mr Miliband said.
He told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One programme: “I have reluctantly reached the conclusion that his position is untenable.”
Mr Corbyn’s camp insisted he was going nowhere and issued a “put up or shut up” challenge to Labour’s MPs.
Mr Miliband’s intervention follows a similar appeal from former acting Labour leaders Harriet Harman and Margaret Beckett for Mr Corbyn to fall on his sword.
Prime Minister David Cameron also waded into Labour’s misery, telling him: “For heaven’s sake man, go.”
Suggesting that Mr Corbyn’s political values would be best served if he quit, Mr Miliband said: “I am not a plotter, I am somebody who cares deeply about my country, deeply about my party, deeply about the causes that Jeremy and I care about.
“I think the best thing on all of those criteria is that he stands down, painful though that might be for him and many of his supporters.”
Mr Miliband said that if he had been in the same position “I would have gone” and added that a lot of Mr Corbyn’s work could continue.
“It’s more likely to continue, I think, if there is a more peaceful transition than a civil war in our party,” he said.
He said people across the party had reached the view that “at this time of acute crisis for the country, Jeremy cannot rise to that challenge”.
Mr Miliband said: “The problem is that it is precisely because of the gravity of the national moment, precisely because we have got to shape this moment in a progressive way not a right-wing reactionary way, that we cannot have a party leader that 75% or more of the representatives in Parliament don’t have confidence in.
“That is an unsustainable position and that is not ideological, it is just a fact of life.
“I deeply respect Jeremy as a person and indeed as a politician for the causes he has fought for. My judgment is those causes are more likely to be served if he goes.”
Mr Miliband’s decision to speak out followed an awkward session of Prime Minister’s Questions for the Labour leader.
Mr Corbyn’s arrival in the Commons chamber was met by stony silence from his backbenchers.
As he took to the Despatch Box, many Labour MPs sat with their arms crossed.
Shortly beforehand, Mr Corbyn suffered the further humiliation of a newly-appointed shadow cabinet minister walking out.
Labour MP Pat Glass said she was quitting the education brief she was given on Monday, saying the situation was “untenable”.
Ms Harman said Mr Corbyn had “no right or mandate” to stay in office.
Gordon Brown also joined the chorus of calls from senior party figures for a change of leadership.
Yesterday, Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn renewed his call to Mr Corbyn to stand down as soon as possible after 172 MPs issued him with a vote of no confidence.
The crushing defeat for Mr Corbyn and his team in a secret ballot held in Westminster is set to trigger a leadership challenge with former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle tipped to be among the favourites to stand against him.
The former shadow Foreign Secretary and Leeds Central MP said the vote shows unequivocally that Mr Corbyn cannot carry on as leader of the party and urged him to resign.
He said: “I hope he will listen to what his fellow MPs have said to him. Jeremy has to make the decision for himself but I would urge him to look at the situation that he has put the party in.”
Mr Benn, who was represented his seat since 1999 and is among the most senior figures in the party, was sacked by Mr Corbyn on Sunday night after he told him he had lost confidence in his leadership.
After an explosive meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party in Westminster on Monday and the mass resignations of more than 40 shadow cabinet members, MPs filed through Central Lobby yesterday to take part in the ballot.
Mr Benn said: “It is untenable to carry on like this. An important part of the job is to lead Labour MPs in Parliament and here we are are with a number of posts in Parliament currently unfilled. Part of why the Labour Party exists is to win representation in Parliament so we can hold the Government to account.
“This is a very difficult, and for many people a distressing situation. I served in the shadow cabinet with Jeremy because I thought I had an obligation to support him as a duly elected leader and it’s been a very hard for me to come to the conclusion, but he is not capable of leading.”