Corbyn under fire after Labour’s ‘red wall’ crumbles

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks after the result in the Islington North constituency was announced at Sobell Leisure Centre

Jeremy Corbyn is facing calls to stand down immediately after leading Labour to its worst result in more than 80 years.

On a disastrous night for the party, which saw a string of Labour strongholds fall to the Tories, Mr Corbyn said he would not be leading the party into the next general election.

But speaking following the count in his Islington North constituency, he said he intended to take it through a “process of reflection” while they considered the way forward.

“I will discuss with our party to ensure there is a process now of reflection on this result and on the policies that the party will take going forward,” he said.

“And I will lead the party during that period to ensure that discussion takes place and we move on into the future.”

He was rounded on, however, by angry Labour MPs and defeated candidates who said his leadership was to blame for their catastrophic showing and called on him to go.

Veteran MP Margaret Hodge, a long-standing critic, said the result represented the rejection of the entire Corbyn project and that it was time for him to quit.

She said that under his leadership, Labour had become the “nasty party” with anti-Semitism allowed to flourish.

“People just didn’t trust the economics, the confetti of promises that was thrown at the public without any clear and honest way they were going to be paid for,” she told the BBC.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was a bigger problem. To say otherwise is delusional

“People didn’t trust us with the national security of the nation. People didn’t trust Mr Corbyn with looking after them.

“Labour has become the nasty party. I am one of the victims of that with the anti-Semitism.”

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.

After losing former Labour stronghold Stoke-on-Trent North, Ruth Smeeth said: “This is a disaster. Jeremy Corbyn should resign now before his own count is in.”

Former cabinet minister Hilary Benn said voters simply did not have confidence in Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

“Any Labour canvasser will tell you we knocked on too many doors where people said, ‘I’ve voted Labour all my life but I’m not going to vote Labour in this occasion’, and they didn’t have confidence in the leadership of the party,” he said.

Allies of the Labour leader insisted the defeat was down to the inability to overcome differences over Brexit rather than a rejection of Mr Corbyn’s radical left wing policy programme.

The party was left with just 203 seats – down from the 262 it won in the 2017 general election and the 243 it held when Parliament was dissolved in November.

Speaking at the Sobell Leisure Centre in Holloway, north London, Mr Corbyn defended his “manifesto of hope” to right social injustices and tackle the climate crisis.

“All of those policies were extremely popular during the election campaign and remain policies that have huge popular support all across this country,” he said.

“However, Brexit has so polarised and divided debate in this country it has overridden so much of a normal political debate and I recognise that has contributed to the results that the Labour Party has received this evening all across this country.”

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