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Deserted by voters, Corbyn's unsuccessful reign in Labour Party ends

Johnson's clarion call to get Brexit done proved more appealing than Corbyn's two-pronged approach, which raised the prospect of yet more delay in the already slow Brexit process

AP | PTI  |  London 

Jeremy Corbyn
Corbyn's party did relatively well in the 2017 vote, depriving Theresa May of a majority in Parliament.

The Labour Party's crushing defeat at the hands of turned-off voters will bring the left-wing party a new leader ending Jeremy Corbyn's unsuccessful reign and give it an urgent task: To recover the allegiance of its core working class voters.

Traditional Labour voters in the north and central parts of England deserted the party in droves, allowing Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives for decades seen by Labour backers as the anti-union party of the London elite to make unprecedented gains.

Johnson's clarion call to get Brexit done proved more appealing than Corbyn's two-pronged approach, which raised the prospect of yet more delay in the already slow Brexit process.

It will fall to a new leader to come up with a strategy that might bring the party back to power, or at least restore it as a credible opposition force. Corbyn said Friday he will not lead Labour into another general election, but resisted calls to step down immediately.

He later said an internal election to choose a new party leader to replace him will take place early next year and that he will step down then.

Corbyn's party did relatively well in the 2017 vote, depriving Theresa May of a majority in Parliament, but imploded in Thursday's election. Corbyn was bedeviled by concerns about his fuzzy Brexit policy, the cost of the party's ambitious social plans, and worries about perceived tolerance of anti-Semitism in his inner circle.

As bitter recriminations began about the failed campaign, former Labour Party Home Secretary Alan Johnson called Corbyn a disaster on the doorstep. Everyone knew that he couldn't lead the working class out of a paper bag."

The results also showed that the ever-cheerful Johnson fond of saying Britain is the greatest country in the world connected more easily with voters than the often-dour Corbyn, whose claims that Labour would address rising inequality did not gain traction.

Ian Murray, a Labour legislator who won re-election in Scotland, said the party's existence will be threatened if it doesn't learn from the across-the-board defeats. This party must listen, this party must respond, or this party will die, he warned. He said the party needs not just to replace Corbyn but also to change the world view he brought to the leadership.

For the sake of the Labour movement, for the sake of the Labour Party, but more importantly for the sake of the country, not only does the person have to go but the policy and the ideology has to go as well, he said.

Corbyn early Friday indicated his desire to preside over a period of reflection in which the party would regroup, a strategy that seems designed to make sure that Corbynism his embrace of European-style socialism with an expanded role for the state does not end once he is replaced.

He may face stiff opposition, however, from Labour figures who want the party to move back to the political center, as defined by more successful figures including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and even Ed Miliband, who was beaten by the Conservatives in 2015 but did not suffer a drubbing of this magnitude.

First Published: Fri, December 13 2019. 21:00 IST
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