Labour has ‘no prospect’ of winning the next election, says senior shadow cabinet minister

Sir Keir Starmer is shadow Brexit Secretary

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Labour currently has “no prospect” of winning the next general election, a senior shadow cabinet minister has said.

Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said Labour’s by-election loss in Copeland was “really serious” and rubbished the list of explanations given by the Labour leadership for the loss. 

He cited Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party as one of the reasons why he believed the party lost the seat which it has held for around 80 years.

“The loss in Copeland was really serious. I don’t think some of the reasons put forward are compelling,” he told a lunch with political journalists in Westminster.

“I’m very straight forward that if things don’t improve there is no prospect of us winning a general election – it is a very bad result for the Labour party. 

“We need to be honest about that. A number of things came up including the direction of travel and Labour’s ability to communicate and understand people are saying to them, and of course the leadership of the Labour party and we all know that.”

Despite the warnings Sir Keir said there was no “appetite” for a third successive Labour leadership election.

“To come in politics and within 22 months to have had two leadership campaigns, is pretty well unprecedented. I don’t think there is an appetite for a third,” he said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

“I do think the Labour party needs to be much clearer about what it needs to do to get from where it is now to getting into power.

“Because 18 points behind in the polls and losing seats like Copeland are not the position that any party in opposition that seriously wants to get into power can be in.”

Sir Keir rubbished John McDonnell’s claims of a “soft coup” to overthrow Mr Corbyn, telling the press he was “trying to work out what a soft coup actually is”.

The MP is a former Director of Public Prosecutions and represents the north London constituency of Holborn and St Pancras. He leads for Labour on Brexit, shadowing Brexit Secretary David Davis.