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15 December 2019 22:33

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP

John McDonnell ‘owns’ Labour’s election ‘disaster’ as leadership race heats up

The Labour Party stands on the brink of civil war in the wake of its crushing election defeat, as MPs from the party's centrist wing raise howls of protest against efforts to instal a new leader in the mould of Jeremy Corbyn. With senior figures on the Labour left coalescing around Rebecca Long-Bailey as the candidate to take the Corbyn project forward, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that any likely contenders for the top job would be signed up to the policy programme put forward in the manifesto for this month's election. - Ashley Cowburn Reuters 1/6 Angela Rayner The shadow education secretary is likely to be in the mix for the party's leadership after Corbyn's resignation. I know the exit poll is incredible devastating but we will continue to keep faith in our great movement and the UK." - Ashley Cowburn PA 2/6 Rebecca Long-Bailey A key ally of the current left-wing leadership of the party, the Salford & Eccles MP is viewed in some quarters as the natural successor to Mr Corbyn and describes herself as a "proud socialist". In June this year, a YouGov poll of party members found he was the narrow favourite in terms of being a good leader if Jeremy Corbyn stood down before the next election, ahead of Thornberry.

We must now reflect; we must also rebuild." - Ashley Cowburn EPA 4/6 Jess Phillips The MP for Birmingham Yardley has been a prominent critic of the Labour leadership, and said at her victory speech in the early hours of Friday morning that it was clear her party needed "structural change". - Ashley Cowburn PA 5/6 Emily Thornberry Corbyn's constituency neighbour and friend, Emily Thornberry, has been critical of the party's Brexit stance, but has remained loyal to the leadership and has represented the Labour Party on various overseas visits. We will tell Boris Johnson no our fight is not over, our fight is just starting." - Ashley Cowburn Reuters 6/6 Yvette Cooper Cooper came third in the Labour leadership election in 2015, with just 19 per cent of the vote share – dwarfed by Corbyn's 59%. Meanwhile, a furious row broke out between Emily Thornberry and Ms Flint over her claim that the shadow foreign secretary had told another MP that Labour Leave voters were "stupid". The former Don Valley MP told Sky News's Sophy Ridge on Sunday that there would be "no credibility" in a run for the leadership by those who had pushed Labour into supporting a second referendum, such as shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer and Ms Thornberry, adding: "She said to one of my colleagues: 'I'm glad my constituents aren't as stupid as yours'." Ms Nandy said she was "seriously thinking" about a bid, but told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show it would be a "very, very hard road" to regain the trust of Labour voters in towns across the north of England.

"No one who sat around the shadow cabinet table for the last couple of years and said nothing about antisemitism, and no one who voted for an early election which let to us being decimated, has the political nous to lead the Labour Party." While it was up to party members to pick a new leader, Mr McDonnell said he did not think there was "much difference in terms of policy" between the leading contenders, adding: "They're all signed up to the policy of the programme." Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey, a key power behind the Labour throne, named Ms Long-Bailey and Ms Rayner as potential leaders who would "carry on the tradition" and deliver "a radical alternative to the misery that is being caused for 10 years by a Tory government". John McDonnell has said he takes full responsibility for Labour's disastrous election defeat, as he sought to divert blame away from Jeremy Corbyn and pave the way for Rebecca Long-Bailey to become leader. Corbyn made no reference to his intention to step down but McDonnell confirmed they would both leave their posts within the next eight to 10 weeks and he suggested his favoured candidate for the leadership would be Rebecca Long-Bailey, a longtime ally. Jess Phillips, the outspoken backbencher and women's rights campaigner, could also run, plus Yvette Cooper, a former Labour minister who was a losing candidate against Corbyn in 2015. Caroline Flint, a former Labour minister who lost her Don Valley seat, said the only two candidates worth considering were Long-Bailey and Nandy, as they were not complicit in pushing the party towards a more remain position.

Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secretary and an ally of Corbyn, had been considered a possible contender but he threw his weight behind Long-Bailey and suggested he could run as her deputy. Labour's John McDonnell has apologised for the party's catastrophic election result, saying "I own this disaster", as the battle to succeed Jeremy Corbyn heated up. The shadow chancellor said "if anyone's to blame, it's me, full stop", but also cited Brexit and the media for having "demonised" the Labour leader ahead of the dismal defeat. Key figures in the current leadership were tipping shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, but backbenchers Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips were testing the waters for a challenge. Mr McDonnell followed the outgoing leader in apologising for losing dozens of seats across the North and the Midlands to the Tories on Thursday, which saw Labour's worst result since 1935.

"It's on me, let's take it on the chin, I own this disaster so I apologise to all those wonderful Labour MPs who have lost their seats and who worked so hard," Mr McDonnell told The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC. Mr McDonnell also praised shadow cabinet ministers Angela Rayner, Dawn Butler and Richard Burgon, who himself was backing Ms Long-Bailey and said he is "considering" running as her deputy. A senior Labour figure has said that the party's next leader should be from outside London and the outfit must "never again" be run by a "narrow cultural circle". The comments come after Jeremy Corbyn announced he would step down as leader of the Labour party in the new year following the party's crushing election defeat. But, speaking to The Sunday Times, long-time Corbyn ally Mr Trickett said it was time for the party to find a new kind of leader. He said: "The party needs to look further afield than a handful of seats in central and north London and find a leader who represents the people we have sorely failed to speak to in recent years. The contest to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader has kicked off amid a bitter row over who is to blame for the party's election hammering Outgoing shadow chancellor John McDonnell said protege Rebecca Long-Bailey would make a "brilliant" leader and do a "great job". Contenders include backbenchers such as Nandy and Jess Phillips, as well as shadow cabinet members Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry. McDonnell followed Corbyn by apologising for losing dozens of seats across the North and the Midlands to the Tories, which saw Labour's worst result since 1935. "It's on me, let's take it on the chin, I own this disaster so I apologise to all those wonderful Labour MPs who have lost their seats and who worked so hard," he said Meanwhile, a former Labour MP who lost her Leave-voting seat has warned that neither Thornberry nor Starmer should be leader.