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Corbyn to address Labour MPs as election blame game continues

MPs are returning to Westminster with the party in turmoil following its worst election performance since 1935.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in Islington, north London (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in Islington, north London (Isabel Infantes/PA)

By Gavin Cordon and Patrick Daly, PA Political Staff

Jeremy Corbyn is set to address the remaining Labour MPs amid bitter recriminations over the party’s catastrophic General Election defeat.

MPs are returning to Westminster with the party in turmoil following its worst election performance since 1935.

Some furious MPs and defeated candidates have angrily pointed the finger of blame at Mr Corbyn, saying his past record and left-wing policies were poison on the doorstep.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham joined in with the criticism by accusing the leadership of “thwarting” the party’s traditional voters’ views on Brexit through its second referendum position.

But allies of the Labour leader have said divisions within the party over Brexit proved impossible to bridge while he was “demonised” by the media.

With the position taken on Brexit at the recent election, it was almost as if they were thwarting the views of people who had been our traditional supporters Andy Burnham, Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester

Mr Corbyn has said he will stand down following a “process of reflection” – with a new leader expected to be in place by the end of March.

However, that is unlikely to lessen the anger when he addresses the Parliamentary Labour Party at Westminster on Tuesday.

Former leadership contender Mr Burnham told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve always been a coalition between traditional supporting working-class communities and, let’s say, a university-educated liberal left.

“Labour has not been speaking to both sides of that coalition for some time.

“And, actually, with the position taken on Brexit at the recent election, it was almost as if they were thwarting the views of people who had been our traditional supporters.”

Meanwhile, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner is reported to have agreed to step aside in the leadership race to support her close friend, Rebecca Long-Bailey.

The shadow business secretary – a protege of shadow chancellor John McDonnell – has long been seen as the favourite of the left to succeed Mr Corbyn.

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Sir Keir Starmer is expected to be a candidate to become leader of the Labour Party (Joe Giddens/PA)

Ms Rayner, who had also been touted as a possible contender, is reported to be considering a run for deputy leaders instead.

Other potential candidates include shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and the backbenchers Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips.

There have been calls for the next leader to hail from the North, where Labour’s traditional supporter base deserted the party at the election.

But Jenny Chapman, who lost her Darlington seat to the Conservatives, said it was “patronising” to think that Labour voters in places like the North East felt the “next leader has to have ovaries, or a northern accent”.

The former shadow Brexit minister is supporting Sir Keir, the man central to Labour’s shift to backing a second referendum.

“What people are saying is that they want a leader that they feel could be the prime minister,” the ex-MP told the BBC.

“I think that Keir has the qualities that they’re looking for.”

In a sign of the bitter divisions opened up with the party, Ms Thornberry was embroiled in an extraordinary war of words with former MP Caroline Flint.

The shadow foreign secretary threatened to take legal action after Ms Flint – who lost her Don Valley seat – accused her of branding Leave voters as “stupid”.

PA

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