Jeremy Corbyn to resign - but not yet

Labour leader to step down after disastrous night for opposition parties

Jeremy Corbyn at the count
(Image credit: (Leon Neal/Getty Images))

Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not lead Labour into the next election after losing heavily in the general election.

Corbyn said it had been a “very disappointing night” for his party, but that he would stay on as leader during a “process of reflection” on the result.

Labour has won its lowest number of seats since 1935, with the Conservatives set to win a majority of between 78 and 80, says Sky News.

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As he retained his North Islington seat, Corbyn said Labour’s party's policies had enjoyed “huge popular support” but he added: “Brexit has so polarised and divided debate in this country, it has overridden so much of a normal political debate.”

“I recognise that has contributed to the results that the Labour Party has received this evening all across this country.” However, he also pinned blame press “attacks” and the “way the media behaved” towards his party during the campaign.

The Guardian’s John Crace said Corbyn’s speech saw him “revel in defeat”.

Labour veteran Yvette Cooper said the result was about “more than the Brexit debate”.

“We’re no longer being seen as a party that stands up for towns, even though towns have been harder hit by austerity and changing economic patterns that the Conservatives haven’t dealt with,” she told the BBC.

But Labour MPs who lost their seats were happy to more explicitly lay the blame for the election result at Corbyn’s feet.

“The Labour party cannot win if it doesn’t have a leader who commands the confidence and trust in the British public,” said Helen Goodman, ousted from her seat in traditionally-Labour Bishop Auckland. “Until we do have such a leader we’re not going to win. As long as we don’t, we’re letting down the very people we were set up to support.”

And Labour MP Ruth Smeeth said Corbyn had made Labour “the racist party” because of his failure to tackle anti-Semitism, adding he “should have gone many months ago”.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson endured a worse evening on a personal level – losing her narrowly lost her Dunbartonshire East seat by just 149 votes. After the result came through, she announced she would be stepping down as leader.

Swinson took 19,523 votes compared to 19,672 for the SNP's Amy Callaghan. Speaking at the count, Swinson, who started the campaign saying she could become the next prime minister, said for millions of people the election results would bring “dread and dismay”.

She added: “I still believe we as a country can be warm and generous, inclusive and open and that by working together with our nearest neighbours we can achieve so much more.”

The BBC says Swinson “attracted criticism from some quarters for her policy to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit, and for her previous record in the coalition government”.

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