Jeremy Corbyn: ‘I did everything I could to lead Labour'

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionJeremy Corbyn: “There is no such thing as Corbynism”

Jeremy Corbyn says he did “everything he could” to get Labour into power and he will not “walk away” until another leader is elected.

The Labour leader said the election, which saw the Conservatives sweep aside his party in its traditional heartlands, was “taken over by Brexit”.

Mr Corbyn said he was “obviously very sad” but also had “pride” in the manifesto his party put forward.

Some people within Labour have blamed Mr Corbyn’s leadership for the defeat.

Former Labour MP John Mann said the leader’s unpopularity on the doorstep was palpable and Mr Corbyn should have “gone already”.

Lord Blunkett, a former Labour cabinet minister, called for the party leadership to apologise for the election defeat, adding that they were “lacking in any contrite belief that they made a mistake”.

Mr Corbyn said it was up to the National Executive to decide when he’ll go, adding it was likely a new leader would be selected in the early part of next year.

In an interview following his party’s defeat, Mr Corbyn addressed the following issues:

On his future

Mr Corbyn said he wouldn’t step down as leader yet because the “responsible thing to do is not to walk away from the whole thing,” adding that it was likely a new leader would be selected in the early part of next year.

He said: “I called last night for a period of reflection in the party and obviously the ruling body of the party, our national executive, will decide what process we follow then for the election of the successor to me.

“But I am quite prepared, and I was elected to do so, to lead the party until that takes place.”

Asked whether he was part of the problem, he said: “I’ve done everything I could to lead this party… and since I became leader the membership has more than doubled and the party has developed a very serious, radical yes, but serious and fully-costed manifesto”.

He said once a successor was found he would continue to be an MP for Islington North and keep doing “the campaigning work I’ve done all my life”.

On the impact of Brexit

“This election was taken over ultimately by Brexit and we, as a party, represent people who both voted Remain and Leave,” he said.

“My whole strategy was to reach out beyond the Brexit divide to try and bring people together because ultimately the country has to come together.”

Asked what went wrong for the party, he said: “Those in Leave areas, in some numbers, voted for Brexit or Conservative candidates which meant that we lost a number of seats and we didn’t make the gains that I’d hoped we could have done”.

The Conservatives took Labour strongholds across northern England, the Midlands and Wales in areas which backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

Some traditional Labour constituencies, such as Darlington, Sedgefield and Workington, in the north of England, will have a Conservative MP for the first time in decades – or in the case of Bishop Auckland and Blyth Valley – for the first time since the seat was created.

And in direct criticism of Boris Johnson’s “get Brexit done” pledge, Jeremy Corbyn says the promise is a “mirage of nonsense”.

On the issue of anti-Semitism within the party

Speaking about his party’s handling of anti-Semitism, he said: “I inherited a system that didn’t work in the Labour party on anti-Semitism, I introduced the rule changes necessary to deal with it and they’re in operation.

“Anti-Semitism is an absolute evil curse within our society and I will always condemn it and also do and always will”.

On whether Corbynism was to blame

Asked whether “Corbynism” is now dead, Jeremy Corbyn says: “There is no such thing as Corbyninsm… there is socialism.”

He adds: “I don’t think [socialist ideas] are unelectable.”

He said his party’s policies were individually “very popular” and there was no “huge debate” about them within the party.