Can party cope after Copeland?

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The astonishing Tory victory at Copeland probably represents Labour’s worst by-election disaster for more than a century.

So what are they going to do about it to ensure there is no repetition?

For a start, Jeremy Corbyn, who graciously acknowledges his share of the calamity, says he has been elected twice as party leader and will fight on to put things right. Some chance! It is not just Labour grandees like Tony Blair who say Corbyn is wrecking the party, but many rank-and-file former Labour voters who said they did not vote Labour at Copeland because of Corbyn’s leadership. But he just won’t budge.

What further evidence do Corbyn and his little band of supporters require before it dawns on them that they are, unwittingly perhaps, the cause of this humiliation, which points the way to a disaster at the next general election?

The fact is Corbyn has to spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with a recalcitrant here-today-gone-tomorrow front-bench team, while steering the party in a direction that none of its traditional supporters want it to go.

If you study the glum faces of many Labour MPs during Prime Minister’s question time in the Commons, you realise something needs to be done – and urgently – to restore Labour to a proper fighting force again.

- Will the House of Lords try to sabotage the Brexit Bill? They have no right to do so because it was passed virtually unscathed by the elected House of Commons.

The Prime Minister has been watching like a hawk the early stages of this debate, which may have caused some “rebellious” peers to consider their position carefully before damaging the measure.

And the price for wrecking it would be heavy, possibly the actual abolition of the Upper Chamber. Theresa May does not make idle threats, so anti-Brexit peers should think twice before they act.

Ominously Lord Heseltine has vowed to fight Brexit in the Lords.

“My fight starts here,” he proclaims.

So it may not be a walk in the park for Brexiteers after all.