Corbyn says will not lead Labour into future UK election

Corbyn says will not lead Labour into future UK election

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn waves as he unveils the Labour party campaign bus in Liverpool, Britain on Nov 7, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Phil Noble)

LONDON: Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would not lead the party into the next election after admitting it had been a "very disappointing night".

"This is obviously a very disappointing night for the Labour Party with the result that we've got," Corbyn said after winning his north London electoral seat for the 10th time.

"I will not lead the party in any future general election campaign," he said, adding that the party needed to reflect and that he would lead the party as it discussed its future. 

Corbyn went into Thursday's election offering a radical leftist programme for social change, including huge investment in public services, as well as a second referendum on Brexit.

Senior Labour figures have indicated Corbyn was responsible for the heavy losses. He admitted in an acceptance speech the results were "very disappointing".

But he stopped short of saying he would stand down immediately, instead announcing he would lead the party during a "process of reflection" into what went wrong.

"Brexit has so polarised and divided debate in this country, it has overridden so much of a normal political debate," he added.

"I recognise that has contributed to the results that the Labour party has received this evening all across this country."

Here are some candidates currently tipped to replace Corbyn after his departure.

KEIR STARMER

The narrow favourite in the race would represent a shift back towards the centre ground for the party after its move to the left under the veteran socialist Corbyn.

Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions in England and Wales, became an MP in 2015 and has served as shadow Brexit minister for three years, using his legal expertise to hold the government to account over its plans.

He is popular among the anti-Brexit and centrist factions of his party, but is less liked among those new members attracted to the party by Corbyn's radicalism.

The 57-year-old would likely face a highly-charged ideological battle to win over enough members.

REBECCA LONG-BAILEY

Starmer's biggest threat appears to be 40-year-old Rebecca Long-Bailey, a Corbyn loyalist who has long been seen as his natural successor.

The daughter of a docker from Manchester, northwest England, Long-Bailey has the credentials to win back disaffected voters in the party's traditional working-class heartlands, while maintaining the backing of Corbyn's supporters.

"If he could step aside and he knew that he'd be handing over to a Rebecca Long-Bailey or to somebody else that would be kind of a continuity 'Corbynite', then I think he probably might," University of Nottingham professor Steven Fielding told AFP.

Long-Bailey has also deputised for Corbyn at the weekly prime minister's questions in parliament.

But given the waning star of the veteran leftist, it is unclear how much influence he will have over the process.

Much could depend on whether the trade unions that prop up the party decide they want it to move towards the centre in a bid to beat the Tories after such a crushing defeat.

ANGELA RAYNER

The combative 39-year-old served in Corbyn's top team for three years after being elected in 2015, and describes herself as being part of Labour's "soft-left" wing.

Her back story has won admirers: she left school at 16, pregnant and without any qualifications, but worked her way up to become a senior trade union official.

"People underestimate me," Rayner told the Guardian in 2012. "I'm a pretty young woman, lots of red hair, and everyone expects me to be stupid when I walk into a meeting for the first time."

EMILY THORNBERRY

Corbyn's foreign affairs spokeswoman for two years, the outspoken MP has previously courted controversy but could be a popular choice among the party's 'Remain' majority having been a vocal proponent of stopping Brexit.

Thornberry, 59, first appeared on the national stage in 2014 after tweeting a photograph of a house in a working-class constituency adorned with three England flags.

Then party leader Ed Miliband said the apparently mocking tweet showed a "lack of respect", and the incident, over which she resigned, could still hinder her in her efforts to win working class support.

JESS PHILIPS

The 38-year-old was elected to parliament in 2015 after a career working with refugees and victims of domestic violence.

She soon became one of its most recognisable voices, with passionate and energetic performances delivered in her distinctive West Midlands accent.

She is no friend of Corbyn, having once joked she would "stab him in the front", and would be an outsider to replace him.

But she is a canny media operator, being one of the party's most visible MPs on Twitter and earning glowing profiles in newspapers from across the political spectrum.

Source: Reuters/zl(mi)

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