Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon has announced his intention to stand as the party’s deputy leader, saying Jeremy Corbyn is not to blame for the party’s election defeat.
The left-winger and Corbyn ally said the party had lost out to the Tories in a contest where the overriding issue of Brexit had triumphed over traditional party loyalties.
He announced his decision to stand in a tweet saying: “After a break and discussions with MPs and party members, I’m announcing that I’m standing to be Labour’s Deputy Leader,” and promising more details in the new year.
He also linked to an opinion piece in socialist publication Tribune Magazine, in which he argued, about the 2019 election: “Given that we had the same leader in Jeremy Corbyn and a similar manifesto to 2017, I think it is mistaken to focus blame there.”
Instead he said that Brexit had “triumphed over traditional party allegiances”.
His decision to stand could pitch him into a contest with shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, who is rumoured to be considering a run for the deputy post vacated by Tom Watson.
Commentators have suggested she would run alongside leftwing favourite Rebecca Long-Bailey, who is considering running to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
MORE: Rebecca Long-Bailey ‘considering’ Labour leadership run as other Corbyn allies eye bidShadow women and equalities secretary Dawn Butler, another left-wing ally of Corbyn, has already declared that she is a candidate for the deputy leadership.
Continuing his defence of Corbyn’s election performance this year, Burgon wrote in Tribune Magazine: “Nobody campaigned with greater energy, resilience and principle than Jeremy and all of us in the shadow cabinet need to accept responsibility.
“We can’t allow blame for this election to fall on Jeremy’s shoulders alone.”
He also defended the party’s election manifesto saying it would be wrong to abandon its promised “green industrial revolution” in favour of a return to “market-driven economics”.
“Others may think that we need to triangulate instead. The evidence does not support this,” he said.
“A weakening of Labour’s popular commitments to ending austerity, returning rail, mail and water to public ownership and a more interventionist role for the state would not win more votes.
“Change is going to be needed, but we need to ensure we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Burgon said more than 50 of the 60 seats lost by Labour had been in Leave-supporting areas and called on whoever becomes the next leader to establish a special commission to look into how they could be won back.
“When campaigning in many constituencies across the North and Midlands, as I did, I heard people say they were ‘lending’ their vote to the Conservatives,” he said.
“We certainly can’t take it for granted that those voters, or Labour voters who stayed at home, will back us next time.
“Scotland shows what can happen when people break with their pattern of voting for Labour.”