Great Britain

Jeremy Corbyn apologises to furious Labour MPs for general election result

Jeremy Corbyn faced harsh criticism from Labour MPs at a meeting in Westminster on Tuesday night, as he took responsibility for the party's heavy losses at the general election.  

The regular Parliamentary Labour Party meeting overran by hours as MP after MP piled in to blame Mr Corbyn for the election result.

Veteran MP Margaret Hodge said the room was characterised by "fury" and accused the party of "corporate amnesia" for failing to learn the lessons of previous defeats. 

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Longstanding Corbyn critic Rachel Reeves meanwhile told reporters: “I told Jeremy that you can make all the excuses in the world about the mainstream media, about Brexit, about people not voting but the biggest drag in this election was him ... we need radical change, we need a party and a leader that the country can trust."

Parliamentary Labour Party meetings have since 2016 been a regular opportunity for parliamentary critics of Mr Corbyn to vent their frustrations with his leadership.

On her way out of the meeting, Labour MP Jess Phillips told reporters that "to be honest it was no worse than it always is".

The Birmingham MP said she had read out a text message from defeated Grimsby MP Melanie Onn about “how she was let down by the leadership and nobody bothered about Grimsby". 

"There’s lots of complaints about how nobody called anyone who lost," Ms Phillips, who is seen as a potential leadership contender, added.

Among defenders of Mr Corbyn was new Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe, who said the party had "a lot of celebrate" from the result such as an influx of new BAME members of parliament. 

"But the reality is we lost the election," she added. Critics of the Labour leader heckled her as she spoke. 

Mr Corbyn is said to have told MPs "I am very sorry for the result for which I take responsibility." 

He indicated that he would continue to lead the party until a replacement was found, adding "whoever the next leader is, they will need the party to come together".

Mr Corbyn also announced that the party would vote against the withdrawal agreement bill in parliament on Friday telling his colleagues: "We will vote against it because by putting an impossible timetable for a good deal with the EU, Boris Johnson has already shown that his priority is a toxic deal with Donald Trump that will sell out our NHS and risk the safety of our food. And the Withdrawal Agreement Bill significantly risks undermining the Good Friday Agreement."

The outgoing leader said that despite the party's best efforts the election was "ultimately about Brexit". 

"We must now listen to those lifelong Labour voters who we’ve lost. I believe that Brexit was a major – although not the only - reason for their loss of trust in us," he said.

"We need to go to places where we lost and genuinely listen to what people want and what they believe is possible."