LABOUR leaders Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell yesterday delivered abject apologies for the party’s defeat in last Thursday’s election, which saw them lose 59 seats.
Both of them have said that they are quitting the Labour leadership, McDonnell immediately, Corbyn after a leadership election in the New Year.
Corbyn said in two newspaper articles that he is ‘sorry that we came up short’, while McDonnell appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show and said he ‘owns this disaster’.
McDonnell told Marr: ‘Let me make it clear then, it’s on me. It’s on me. Let’s take it on the chin, I own this disaster, so I apologise.
‘I apologise not just to all those wonderful Labour MPs who’ve lost their seats, who worked so hard and all our campaigners, but most of all, I apologise to all those people who desperately need a Labour government and yes, if anyone is to blame it is me.’
Marr said: ‘You were one of those people that Len McCluskey accused of going onto the media and talking in a way which gave the impression to millions of voters across the country that the Labour Party is now a Remain party, led by Remain Londoners.’
McDonnell agreed: ‘Len’s got a point. The bulk of our members campaigned for Remain and were solidly Remain, about 70% I think, one of the polls showed.
‘But the bulk of Labour MPs represent Leave seats. So we were on the horns of a dilemma. If we campaigned for Remain we would lose these voters. If we campaigned for Leave we would lose Remainers.
‘What we tried to do is bring both sides together and we failed. It’s just a tactic or strategy, whatever you call it, that didn’t work.’
McDonnell said it will now be up to Labour’s National Executive Committee to decide the mechanics of the leadership election, but he expects it to take place in eight to 10 weeks’ time.
Labour suffered its worst election result since 1935 last Thursday and saw its vote share fall by eight points.
The Tories won a House of Commons majority of 80 – the party’s biggest election win for 30 years.
Meanwhile, MPs will return to Westminster tomorrow and begin the process of ‘swearing in’ the newcomers, before the Queen formally opens Parliament on Thursday.
The State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech are expected to take place on Thursday, after which MPs will begin debating its contents.
The debate on the Queen’s Speech could continue into Friday, but may be interrupted for a second reading debate on the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
• The Tory government has confirmed that it has ordered a review to consider decriminalising non-payment of the BBC licence fee.