Labour leadership: Owen Smith tells Jeremy Corbyn he needs to 'win the country' after being re-elected as leader

Mr Corbyn beat his opponent by 62 per cent of the vote to 38 per cent

Lizzie Dearden@lizziedearden
Saturday 24 September 2016 13:02
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Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn before the announcement of the winner in the Labour leadership contest between the pair at the ACC Liverpool
Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn before the announcement of the winner in the Labour leadership contest between the pair at the ACC Liverpool

Jeremy Corbyn might have won his second Labour leadership contest but must now “win the country”, his opponent Owen Smith has said.

Mr Smith was beaten decisively after receiving only 38.2 per cent of members’ votes and vowed during his campaign that he would not serve in the victor’s shadow Cabinet.

The MP for Pontypridd said he was “humbled” by more than 193,000 votes but would respect the “clear” result.

Corbyn re-elected as leader

“Although today’s result shows that our movement remains divided, it now falls primarily to Jeremy Corbyn, as Labour Leader, to heal those divisions and to unite our movement,” he continued.

“We have to turn round our dire opinion poll ratings and take on this right wing, failing Tory Government. Jeremy has won this contest.

“He now has to win the country and he will have my support in trying to do so.”

Echoing his rival’s call for backing from all his MPs, Mr Smith said party members must “stick together” rather than defecting to rival parties.

Mr Corbyn said he and his opponent remained part of the “same Labour family” in the wake of the bitter leadership campaign.

“We have much more in common than that which divides us,” he added. “As far as I'm concerned let's wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work we've got to do as a party.”

Owen Smith’s statement in full:

I want to congratulate Jeremy Corbyn on his clear win in this leadership contest. There is no doubt that the Labour party has changed under his leadership, he has mobilised huge numbers of people over the last 12 months, many of whom are here at conference in Liverpool, and he deserves the credit for that, and for winning this contest so decisively.

I am humbled by the more than 193,000 members, supporters and trade union members who have put their faith in me and I want to say a big thank you to them. It has been a privilege to meet so many of you, who have given so much of your lives to Labour, and I promise to continue to work for what we all believe in. It has been a huge honour for me to stand for leader of our great party and I am also deeply grateful to my Parliamentary colleagues for nominating me.

I entered this race because I didn’t think Jeremy was providing the leadership we needed, and because I felt we must renew our party to win back the voters’ trust and respect. However, I fully accept and respect the result and I will reflect carefully on it and on what role I might play in future to help Labour win again for the British people.

I have no time for talk of a split in the Labour movement - it’s Labour or nothing for me. And although today’s result shows that our movement remains divided, it now falls primarily to Jeremy Corbyn, as Labour Leader, to heal those divisions and to unite our movement. We have to turn round our dire opinion poll ratings and take on this right wing, failing Tory government. Jeremy has won this contest. He now has to win the country and he will have my support in trying to do so.

Above all, despite present divisions, we have to stick together in for the long term. I call on those party members disappointed by the result and tempted to look elsewhere to stay with Labour and to stay involved. Let’s work together to renew this movement and take the fight to the Tories.

I want to say thank you to my campaign team, and particular my wonderful campaign chairs, Kate Green, Heidi Alexander, and Lisa Nandy.

I want to thank Iain McNicol, the Labour Party staff and ERS who have all worked tirelessly and professionally during this contest.

And, most importantly, I want to thank my family who have made huge sacrifices for me during this campaign and in recent years. I’m going to be at conference today and tomorrow before returning home to Wales to spend some precious time with them.

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