Keir Starmer says Jeremy Corbyn key issue on doorsteps at election
PUBLISHED: 13:11 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:11 07 May 2020
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Newly-elected Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the party’s calamitous election defeat came down to one major factor - Jeremy Corbyn.
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Sir Keir told the Financial Times that Corbyn’s leadership was raised with him in over 40 constituencies over the course of the 2019 election campaign as shadow Brexit secretary.
He told the paper: “The topic of conversation was always what was coming up . . . anybody who knocks on doors knows a number of things came up... The leadership of Labour party was number one, fair or unfair.”
He insisted that an “overloaded” manifesto also contributed to the party’s bruising defeat, saying MPs and constituents struggled to believe in the viability of nationalising industries and spending £83 billion more per year from raised taxes on public services.
“People thought there was too much in it”, he said, “and because there was too much in it they didn’t believe any of it”.
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In 2019 Labour suffered one of its worst elections defeats on record, handing the Conservatives an eye-watering 80-seat majority in December 2019. The result led to Corbyn resigning on the night during his election speech in Islington.
Since taking over as party leader in April, Sir Keir has distanced himself from Corbyn and his allies, who he was reluctant to criticise during the Labour leadership campaign.
Among those who were axed from the frontbench included former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, and ex-trade and climate change minister Barry Gardiner.
The party’s general secretary Jennie Formby this week quit ‘by mutual agreement’, and Corbyn’s director of communications Seumas Milne was immediately replaced.
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