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Jeremy Corbyn announces plans to step down as Labour leader

Islington North MP proud of the party's campaign for 'hope and justice'

13 December, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

JEREMY Corbyn announced he would step down as Labour leader this morning (Friday) while saying he was proud of the party’s campaign for “hope and justice”.

Mr Corbyn was elected for the tenth time to the Islington North constituency but with a reduced majority.

Boris Johnson’s Conservatives gained an outright majority in a disastrous night for Labour nationally.

Speaking at the count in the Sobell Leisure Centre, Holloway, Mr Corbyn said: “I want to also make it clear that I will not lead the party in any future general election campaign.

“I will discuss with our party to ensure there is a process now of reflection on this result and on the policies that the party will take going forward.

“And I will lead the party during that period to ensure that discussion takes place and we move on into the future.”

Mr Corbyn, 70, said Brexit had “polarised and divided” society and trumped “normal political debate”, adding: “I’m very proud of the way that we fought this election campaign. We did not  descend into the gutter, we did not undertake personal abuse, we undertook the task of getting a message of hope and justice to every part of this country.”

He said it was a “very disappointing night” for Labour, but added: “But I want to say this, in the election campaign, we put forward a manifesto of hope, a manifesto of unity and a manifesto that would help to right the wrongs and injustices and inequalities that exists in this country.”

Mr Corbyn said his manifesto policies were “eternal” and issues of social justice will “not go away”.

“I’m proud to represent the people of Islington North, and I’m proud in Parliament and outside, that we will forever continue the cause for socialism for social justice, and for a society based on the needs of all rather than the greed of a few. That is what makes our party what it is.”

READ JEREMY CORBYN’S SPEECH IN FULL

Mr Corbyn’s vote share was down 8.7 per cent from 40,086 to 34,603, with the Liberal Democrats increasing their votes by 6.6 per cent. Voter turn out was 71.6 per cent.

Town Hall Labour council leader Richard Watts, who gave Mr Corbyn a hug before the results were announced, said he was “gutted” at the outcome, and hinted that he would support Emily Thornberry in a leadership contest.

Richard Watts and Jeremy Corbyn share a hug on the count floor

“I am immensely disappointed for the Labour Party but much more for people in Islington who needed the socialist transformatory programme that Labour put forward at this election,” he said.

“I think there’s a time for a discussion about the future of the Labour Party and it’s not this evening. I’ve always been an Emily fan.”

The Lib Dem candidate Nick Wakeling came second with 8,415 votes, beating Conservative’s James Clark who polled 5,483 votes.

Speaking before the count, Mr Wakeling said: “It was going to be a mountain to climb. I think pushing the Conservatives into third place is a victory given the story.”

Mr Clark said: “Perhaps it won’t be the huge upset we were hoping for in the seat but I think all of the parties have fought hard. I think a lot of much bigger national issues have affected people’s vote such as Brexit and people’s position on it.”

Green Party’s Caroline Russell, one of two opposition councillors at the Town Hall, had also been campaigning for the St George’s ward by-election, which is due to be announced today, after Labour councillor Kat Fletcher stood down last month.

Ms Russell increased her vote share by 4 per cent to 4,326 votes. The Brexit Party’s Yosef David received 742 votes.

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