Anger as Jeremy Corbyn claims he ‘won the arguments’ in general election after Labour’s devastating defeat

Harriet Harman calls for leader to resign, saying he shows unwillingness to understand reasons for defeat

Jeremy Corbyn announces he will resign as Labour leader before next election

Jeremy Corbyn has sparked a backlash among Labour ranks by claiming that he “won the arguments” in the general election despite leading the party to its worst defeat since 1935.

Writing in The Observer, the Labour leader said that he took responsibility for the defeat but insisted that his policies were “popular” and his manifesto would in time be viewed as “historically important”.

And he indicated that he wants his successor to continue in the direction he has steered the party since taking the helm in 2015.

His analysis won a scathing response from Harriet Harman – Labour’s joint longest-serving MP, who took over as interim leader when Ed Miliband resigned immediately after losing the 2015 election.

Responding to Corbyn’s article, Ms Harman said: “This shows no willingness to understand why Labour⁩ suffered this catastrophic defeat. ⁦Jeremy Corbyn should resign.”

Mr Corbyn has said he will not lead Labour into the next election, but is yet to name a date for handing over the reins of power to a successor.

Bermondsey & Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle – a longtime critic of Corbyn – tweeted: “‘But I won the argument’ is not something Neil Kinnock would have said.”

And former minister John Spellar joked: “Clearly the play was a success, but the audience was a failure.”

In his Observer article, Mr Corbyn said: “We have suffered a heavy defeat, and I take my responsibility for it.”

He added: “I am proud that on austerity, on corporate power, on inequality and on the climate emergency we have won the arguments and rewritten the terms of political debate.

“But I regret that we did not succeed in converting that into a parliamentary majority for change.

“There is no doubt that our policies are popular, from public ownership of rail and key utilities to a massive house-building programme and a pay rise for millions. The question is, how can we succeed in future where we didn’t this time?”

He added: “Even though we lost seats heavily on Thursday, I believe the manifesto of 2019 and the movement behind it will be seen as historically important – a real attempt at building a force powerful enough to transform society for the many, not the few. For the first time in decades, many people have had hope for a better future.”

In a video released on social media with the message “our time will come”, Mr Corbyn said that Labour had “created a new political mainstream” and put the blame for his defeat on Brexit and media hostility.

Despite the popularity of its programme, “ultimately the divisions in our country over Brexit were too great for us to overcome”, he said.

In a signal that he wants his successor to continue with his agenda, Mr Corbyn wrote: “Labour will soon have a new leader. But whoever that will be, our movement will continue to work for a more equal and just society, and a sustainable and peaceful world.

“I’ve spent my life campaigning for those goals, and will continue to do so. The politics of hope must prevail.”

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon defended Mr Corbyn’s leadership, and blamed negative voter reactions on his “character assassination” by the press.

He said that on the doorstep, “a minority of people did mention what they had read in The Sun or the Daily Mail and I think there was a character assassination”, he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

“The concerns were repeating headlines that The Sun and Daily Mail had very effectively put across. For example people were saying things such as ‘Oh, he’s a racist or a terrorist’ – both things which are completely untrue but were pushed by the right-wing newspapers.”

Mr Burgon denied that he was suggesting that voters who turned against Labour had been “duped” by the media, and said he was “truly sorry” for the election result.

“It was a disastrous election result and for that we are truly sorry,” he said. “I think the biggest mistake the Labour Party made was perhaps underestimating the desire for people who had voted Leave to leave the European Union.”

Labour’s former general secretary Iain McNicol called on Mr Corbyn to resign immediately so a caretaker leader can hold the Tories to account.

Saying the opposition needs someone who can hold Boris Johnson’s “feet to the fire” over Brexit, Lord McNicol told Ridge: “I think Jeremy should stand down now and we should move to a caretaker leader.

“Go to one of the grandees from before, so like Harriet Harman or Hilary Benn or Yvette Cooper, bring in someone who can actually put the pressure on Boris Johnson on the Conservatives while we go through the next leadership election.”

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