Jeremy Corbyn says he will step down in early 2020

Jeremy Corbyn will stand down 'early next year' but declines to take blame for election disaster

'I have pride in our manifesto that we put forward….this election was taken over ultimately by Brexit'

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 13 December 2019 14:27

Jeremy Corbyn has indicated he will quit in “the early part of next year”, but declined to take personal responsibility for Labour’s election disaster.

In his first interview since his crushing defeat, the Labour leader said: “I have pride in our manifesto that we put forward….this election was taken over ultimately by Brexit.”

On his future, he said: “The National Executive [Committee] will have to meet, of course, in the very near future and it is up to them. It will be in the early part of next year.”

The comment suggests Mr Corbyn plans to stay on until a successor is in place, rather than facilitate the appointment of an interim leader.

“I was elected to lead the party and I think the responsible thing is not to walk away from the whole party,” he insisted.

Earlier, some MPs and defeated candidates demanded Mr Corbyn walk away immediately – blaming him personally for the drubbing and calling for rebuilding to begin straight away.

Margaret Hodge, who held onto her London seat, tweeted: “Corbyn talking about a period of ‘reflection’. I’ve reflected. You failed. Please stand down.”

But, asked why Labour had lost so heavily, the party leader said: “I've done everything I could to lead this party.

“I've done everything I could to develop its policies, and since I became leader the membership has more than doubled and the party has developed a very serious and fully costed manifesto.

“And I've received more personal abuse than any other leader has ever received by a great deal of the media.”

Some drew a sharp contrast with Ed Miliband, who resigned immediately after losing in 2015, saying: “I take absolute and total responsibility for our defeat.

“I am so sorry for all of those colleagues who lost their seats. I am truly sorry I did not succeed.”

But Mr Corbyn said: “This election was ultimately taken over by Brexit and we as a party represent people who voted both Remain and Leave.

“My whole strategy was to reach out beyond the Brexit divide to try and bring people together, because ultimately the country has to come together.”

Len McCluskey, the Unite leader and Corbyn ally, backed the belief that Brexit had been the deciding factor.

He said, of heartland Leave voters who had deserted the party, “They undoubtedly felt that Labour had let them down.”

Earlier, Mr Corbyn had announced only that he would stand down before the next goes general election, due in 2024, and would stay on for “a process of reflection”.

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