Jeremy Corbyn will not quit as Labour leader despite election battering, key ally says

'He is the leader of the Labour Party and will continue as the leader of the Labour Party'

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Indy Politics

Jeremy Corbyn will not quit as Labour’s leader, a key ally has insisted, despite the party’s local election battering and near-open revolt from some candidates.

Ian Lavery, Labour’s joint campaigns co-ordinator, went further than his leader in admitting Thursday had produced “disappointing results,” in town hall and mayoral races.

Mr Lavery also admitted some voters were rejecting Mr Corbyn in conversations with Labour activists, even as he insisted “not all of them have been negative”.

Local elections: 60-second round-up

But he sent out a defiant message to the leader’s critics, saying: “He is the leader of the Labour Party and will continue as the leader of the Labour Party.”

Mr Lavery also appeared to blame Andy Burnham for the new Greater Manchester’s mayor failure to appear at a campaign rally alongside Mr Corbyn last night, but insisted there was no “rift” between the pair.

“People were aware that he was arriving at a certain time and Jeremy did exactly what was expected,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

This morning, The Independent revealed that even a majority of Labour supporters want Mr Corbyn to quit immediately if he loses the general election, according to a new poll.

Following the local election mauling – with the loss of hundreds of council seats, including in Labour strongholds – Mr Lavery was asked if Mr Corbyn might go before the general election, on 8 June.

But he said: “He has been elected by nearly half a million people twice in the last two years. He is the leader of the Labour Party and will continue as the leader of the Labour Party.”

Mr Lavery acknowledged: “A number of people have mentioned Jeremy and I’ve got to say that not all of them have been negative. We’ve had some positive response on the doorstep.”

Several hours after Mr Burnham won his contest by a huge margin, Mr Corbyn went to Manchester for a victory rally but the new mayor was notably absent.

The leader explained the absence by saying: “I have spoken to Andy and he is already working hard on behalf of the people of Greater Manchester region.”

However, Mr Burnham was reported to be celebrating his triumph at one of Manchester's trendiest restaurants as Mr Corbyn was speaking to supporters.

“I’ve got to dispel this myth that there is a rift between Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn because there simply isn’t,” Mr Lavery insisted, adding:  “They’re quite good friends.”

After his defeat in the West Midlands mayoral race, Sion Simon warned that traditional Labour voters were losing faith in the party, because of a loss of “traditional Labour values.

Philip Johnson, who will be standing in the swing seat of Nuneaton in the general election, said Mr Corbyn is “putting off” voters after he lost his council seat.

And Stephen Kinnock, the MP for Aberavon and son of the former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, said the results showed “a pretty disastrous picture”.

But Mr Lavery said: “I think the more that Jeremy gets out there into the community and speaks to people, knocks on people’s doors, holds rallies and speaks to people face to face, the more that people will warm to him.

“I don't know how he puts up with the fact that he receives this abuse from a certain section of the media.”