Belfast Telegraph

Labour figures line up to blame Corbyn after disastrous showing

Jeremy Corbyn faces the media outside his house
Jeremy Corbyn faces the media outside his house

By Shaun Connolly

Sadiq Khan has blamed Labour's "catastrophic" defeat on Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and the "repeated failure to tackle anti-Semitism".

The Mayor of London said his party's performance, which left them with 203 MPs nationwide, had "failed... the sick, the poorest and the vulnerable".

Writing on Facebook, the former MP for Tooting said: "If we are truly honest with ourselves, we knew in our hearts that Jeremy Corbyn's leadership was deeply unpopular with the British people and that we were extremely unlikely to form a Labour government last night.

"Labour's shocking and repeated failure to tackle anti-Semitism, and our inability to put forward a credible and believable set of priorities for governing have made a major contribution to the scale of this defeat."

Earlier, Mr Corbyn indicated he would step down early next year, and Mr Khan called on the leadership election to happen "quickly" for the party to "change fundamentally in order to rise to (the) challenges" of Brexit and the union with Scotland.

Mr Khan is the latest in a long line of Labour figures to criticise Mr Corbyn since election results started rolling in. Phil Wilson, who lost Tony Blair's former seat of Sedgefield to the Tories, said attempts by the leadership to put the result down to Brexit was "mendacious nonsense".

"Jeremy Corbyn's leadership was a bigger problem. To say otherwise is delusional. The party's leadership went down like a lead balloon on the doorstep," he said.

A senior union leader has warned that Labour's Brexit stance was the immediate cause of lifelong voters' "alienation" from the party.

But writing for the Huffington Post website, Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, urged the party to grasp that the cause of the defeat was "staring us in the face" and that it lay with too many in the party failing to accept the democratic vote of 2016 to leave the EU.

Mr McCluskey said he accepts there were other failings in the campaign, citing both the "incontinent rush of policies" and the failure to apologise for anti-Semitism in the party. He said this was compounded by shadow Cabinet members vowing to back Remain in any second referendum, "totally undermining" Labour's message that it would negotiate a credible Leave option to put to voters.

Positioning in the race to become the next Labour leader has already started, with ardent Remainer David Lammy confirming he was considering putting his name forward.

Others being touted to take over include Lisa Nandy, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Angela Rayner, Sir Keir Starmer, Jess Phillips and Emily Thornberry.

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