British election: Jeremy Corbyn says he will not lead Labour Party into next general election

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn waits for the General Election results of the Islington North constituency to be announced at a counting centre in Islington, on Dec 13, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has faced calls to quit following the results of the exit polls. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that he would not lead the party in the next general election, after an exit poll indicated that Labour was facing its worst election defeat in 84 years as a combination of his equivocation over Brexit and limited personal appeal triggered a collapse in traditional strongholds.

Mr Corbyn said that the pressure on people in public life was high, and that attacks on them were disgusting. He thanked his family, particularly his wife, for having to bear attacks from the media and others.

He said it had been a "very disappointing night" for Labour, even though the party campaigned on a manifesto of hope. He also claimed the party's policies were popular, but Brexit had polarised debate.

While Mr Corbyn said he would not lead the party in any future general election campaign, he added that a discussion would take place as to what happens next.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party looks set for a resounding victory in Britain's election, allowing him to deliver Brexit on Jan 31, with Labour facing its worst election result since 1935.

Exit polls showed voters had made a choice to go with Mr Johnson's "Get Brexit Done" promise and pro-market philosophy, and reject left-wing veteran Corbyn, who had promised a second Brexit referendum and a radical expansion of the state.

Labour candidate Gareth Snell said he expected to lose his parliamentary seat in Stoke-on-Trent - a city once regarded as a Labour stronghold, and made clear that he wanted Mr Corbyn to take responsibility for the party's poor performance.

Asked if it was time for Mr Corbyn and his finance chief John McDonnell to go, Mr Snell replied: "Yes."

Stoke was hard hit by closures of heavy industry and coal mines in the 1980s, but remains renowned for its porcelain, bone china and ceramics, and Labour has represented Mr Snell's Stoke-on-Trent Central seat since the constituency was created in 1950.

Projections show that Labour's heartlands in the former industrial areas in central and northern of England - areas that typically voted for Brexit - had swung towards Mr Johnson's Conservatives.

Mr Snell said a combination of the perception that Labour was blocking Britain's exit from the European Union, and some voters' dislike of Mr Corbyn meant he expected to lose the Stoke-on-Trent Central seat.

"It's a lovely and toxic combination of the fact that the message in Stoke-on-Trent that's been heard by the voters is that Labour Party tried to stop Brexit," Mr Snell told the BBC.

"It would be remiss of me not to mention that Jeremy Corbyn has come up on the doorstep: Some people really like him, some people really dislike him, and that has been a turn-off."

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