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Jeremy Corbyn apologises for dismal UK Labour election showing

The socialist leader insisted Labour's vision remained the best way to transform society

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn is to step down as party leader. Reuters
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn is to step down as party leader. Reuters

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for his party’s devastating election loss on Thursday to the Conservatives that saw them lose 59 seats in parliament.

The result was particularly galling for the socialist leader, who had promised a radical transformation of British society, because Labour lost seats in its traditional heartland in northern England.

But Mr Corbyn, who has said he will stand down as leader at some point in the future, defiantly insisted his party was one of the “greatest forces for progressive change this country has ever known”.

“I will make no bones about it. The election result on Thursday was a body blow for everyone who so desperately needs real change in our country,” he said in a letter published by the Sunday Mirror.

“I remain proud of the campaign we fought. I’m proud that no matter how low our opponents went, we refused to join them in the gutter. And I’m proud that our message was one of hope, rather than fear,” Mr Corbyn wrote.

Labour has billed itself as the party that would look out for the poorest members of society as it pledged to embark on a major spending spree to protect public services such as the National Health System.

Thursday's snap general election handed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives a mandate to take Britain out of the European Union at the end of next month.

Mr Corbyn conceded the campaign was dominated by Brexit. Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservatives have vowed to abide by the 2016 referendum that saw the British public vote to leave the EU by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

Labour said it would renegotiate a withdrawal agreement with Brussels and then ask the public if they wanted this deal or to stay in the EU.

“But despite our best efforts, this election was ultimately about Brexit. The Tory campaign, amplified by most of the media, managed to persuade many that only Boris Johnson could “get Brexit done.”

“That will soon be exposed for the falsehood it is, but in this election it overpowered our attempt to reach across the divide and bring our country together,” Mr Corbyn said.

“Make no mistake: Labour is the greatest force for progressive change this country has ever known, and although this wasn’t our moment, our time will come again under new leadership. We will never give up on the commitment and determination to build a fairer and more decent society,” he added.

While Mr Corbyn’s hard-left plans to change the country garnered a strong, loyal following, others have been put off by tax increases he proposed.

His finance spokesperson John McDonnell will also step aside.

It is unclear when a new leader will be announced but Mr Corbyn has said he will continue to serve his constituency in parliament.

Updated: December 15, 2019 04:29 PM

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