Jeremy Corbyn today vowed to stay on as Labour leader for months as his hard-Left faction fights to keep control of the party despite the disastrous election rout.
The veteran MP dismissed calls to step down immediately after overseeing the most catastrophic Labour showing in a poll since 1935.
Extraordinarily he also rejected the idea his appalling personal ratings and extreme policies were to blame.
Labour’s tally of MPs was slashed by 59 to just 203 in a staggering night of political drama, putting them in a worse position than after Mr Corbyn’s left-wing hero was put to the sword by Margaret Thatcher in 1983.
The party is already engulfed in a brutal civil war today as moderates warn the Tories could be in power for another 20 years unless Mr Corbyn and his supporters are evicted from power.
But left-wingers such as shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon today showed every sign of doubling down on the extreme agenda they tried to sell to the public in the campaign.
And Mr Corbyn said he would remain leader until a contest to replace him is held in the ‘early part of next year’ – in an apparent sign that his clique wants to maintain control of the process.
In his first interview since defeat, Mr Corbyn also denied he was to blame for the devastating defeat and said: ‘This election was ultimately taken over by Brexit and we as a party represent people who voted both Remain and Leave’.
And when grilled on whether he if he felt guilty about the result he replied he was ‘very sad’, but defiantly added: ‘I did everything I could. The manifesto was universally supported throughout our party and our movement’.
He has also been slammed for failing to apologise to the dozens of MPs who have lost their seats.
Jeremy Corbyn has said he won’t quit as leader until next year in his first interview since his party’s election disaster
Mr Corbyn tweeted this morning: ‘It was a very disappointing night. But I’m proud that we took our message of hope, unity and justice to every part of this country.’
Boris Johnson humbled Labour and delivered the largest Tory majority since Thatcher in the 1980s
Who could be the next Labour leader?
As Labour faces a potentially devastating defeat at the general election, here is a look at who could be in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.
– John McDonnell
The shadow chancellor played a prominent role throughout the campaign, but has appeared to have ruled himself out as a future leader.
On Thursday night, Mr McDonnell said he will not serve ‘either as a temporary or a permanent’ leader of the Labour Party if Mr Corbyn were to resign.
Back in October, Mr McDonnell said he ‘can’t see’ how he or close ally Mr Corbyn could continue to lead the party if they failed to win power after the next general election.
– Emily Thornberry
The shadow foreign secretary has deputised for Mr Corbyn in PMQs and has represented the Labour Party on various overseas visits.
Ms Thornberry, who campaigned for Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum, joined the party when she was 17 and was motivated by her experiences being raised by her mother, a single parent living on a council estate, according to her website.
She was first elected as MP for Islington South and Finsbury on May 5 2005.
– Sir Keir Starmer
The shadow Brexit secretary was a human rights lawyer before becoming an MP, and co-founded Doughty Street Chambers in 1990.
He worked as human rights adviser to the Policing Board in Northern Ireland, monitoring compliance of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) with the Human Rights Act, and in 2008 he was appointed Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service for England and Wales.
Sir Keir was elected as Labour MP for Holborn & St Pancras in May 2015.
– Angela Rayner
Mr McDonnell named shadow education secretary Ms Rayner as a possible successor to Mr Corbyn in an interview with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell for GQ magazine in October, saying whoever comes after Mr Corbyn ‘has got to be a woman’.
Ms Rayner was brought up on a council estate and left her local comprehensive at 16 with no qualifications and pregnant, after being told she would ‘never amount to anything’, according to her website. It adds that in 2015 she became the first woman MP in the 180-year history of her Ashton-under-Lyne constituency.
Her web page also says she rose through the ranks of the trade union movement to become the most senior elected official of Unison in the North West.
– Rebecca Long-Bailey
The shadow business secretary grew up by Old Trafford football ground in Manchester and began her working life serving at the counter of a pawn shop, according to her website.
She has also worked in call centres, a furniture factory, and as a postwoman before eventually studying to become a solicitor, her online biography adds, while she describes herself as a ‘proud Socialist’ in her Twitter profile.
In 2015 she was elected as MP for Salford and Eccles.
When asked what went wrong, Mr Corbyn said: ‘Those in Leave areas in some numbers voted for Brexit or Conservative candidates, which means we lost a number of seats and we didn’t make the gains I hoped we could have done, particularly in the Midlands and Yorkshire and the north.’
Mr Corbyn added: ‘I’ve received more personal abuse than any other leader has ever received by a great deal of the media.’
When asked about his future, Mr Corbyn said: ‘I called last night for a period of reflection in the party and obviously the ruling body of the party, our national executive, will decide what process we follow then for the election of the successor to me.
‘But I am quite prepared, and I was elected to do so, to lead the party until that takes place.’
When asked about his timetable to leave as leader, Mr Corbyn said: ‘The National Executive will have to meet, of course, in the very near future and it is up to them. It will be in the early part of next year.’
The bitter recrimination between Mr Corbyn’s hard-Left supporters and more moderate factions began as soon as the exit polls last night accurately predicted the party’s brutal pummelling at the hands of voters.
As Mr Corbyn revealed he would not fight another general election as opposition leader his closest confidants were quick to blame Brexit, the weather and his opponents to deflect from his failings in his four years in charge.
Laura Parker, the head of grassroots group Momentum, even claimed it was ‘unquestionable that Labour’s policies are popular’ despite an overwhelming Tory majority.
But MPs ploughed into Mr Corbyn and the hardline socialist faction around him, warning that they were setting the scene for decades of Tory Government.
Gareth Snell, who was one of a host of MPs in Leave areas to lose their seats, called for Mr Corbyn to quit immediately.
The former Stoke-on-Trent Central MP said: ‘This is the start of 20 years of Tory rule.’
Mr Corbyn tweeted this morning: ‘It was a very disappointing night. But I’m proud that we took our message of hope, unity and justice to every part of this country.’
Bookmakers have installed Remainer moderate Sir Keir Starmer as the favourite to become the new party leader.
But the shadow Brexit secretary is sure to face a challenge from a far left figure, with shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, protegee of shadow chancellor John McDonnell, second favourite.
Ruth Smeeth, who lost in neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent North, added that Mr Corbyn should have resigned ‘many, many, many months ago’ because of his handling of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis.
‘His personal actions have delivered this result,’ she said, adding that Mr Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Jewish racist abuse had ‘made us the nasty party’.
Dagenham East candidate Dame Margaret Hodge, a vocal critic of Mr Corbyn, echoed a similar sentiment as she tweeted: ‘If this bears out, this is the utter failure of Corbyn & Corbynism. There is no other way of looking at it.’
Mr Corbyn announced in the early hours of this morning he will quit as Labour leader after the party crashed to one of its worst ever sets of general election results.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in Islington, North London, this morning
Mr Corbyn leaves his home in North London today after the Labour Party suffered its worst electoral performance since before the Second World War
Photographers take pictures of Mr Corbyn as he leaves his home today after the election defeat
The bitter recrimination between Mr Corbyn’ hard-Left supporters and more moderate factions began as soon as the exit polls last night
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry (pictured with Mr Corbyn at the election counts in Islington last night) is among those expected to run for the leadership
Bookmakers have installed Remainer moderate Sir Keir Starmer as the favourite to becom the new party leader
The shadow Brexit secretary is sure to face a challenge from a far left figure, with shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey second favourite
The Tories then went onto seize a plethora of other Labour-held heartland constituencies, including Darlington, Peterborough, Leigh, Redcar, Burnley and Vale of Clwyd.
The overall nationwide result represents an emphatic rejection of Mr Corbyn’s hard-left socialist vision which he has peddled since he unexpectedly became leader.
Announcing his decision to quit as leader after he was re-elected as the MP for Islington North, Mr Corbyn said: ‘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.
‘I will lead the party during that period to ensure that discussion takes place and we move on into the future.’
However, Mr Corbyn refused to accept any of the blame for his party’s disastrous performance as he accused the media of ‘disgusting’ attacks and claimed his hard-left policy platform was ‘extremely popular’.
His decision to walk away from the job he has occupied since September 2015 will fire the starting pistol on what is likely to be a bruising contest to replace him as Labour moderates and Corbyn acolytes battle for the soul of the party.
Mr Corbyn faced immediate calls to quit from furious Labour MP candidates as soon as voting stopped at 10pm and a devastating exit poll pointed to massive losses.
His position at the top of the party was instantly untenable after it became clear he had failed to win power in back-to-back general elections.
His allies tried to deflect blame away from him as they said Brexit was the cause of the party’s dismal showing.
Gareth Snell, who was one of a host of MPs in Leave areas to lose their seats, called for Mr Corbyn to quit immediately, saying: ‘This is the start of 20 years of Tory rule’
Ruth Smeeth, who lost in neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent North, added that Mr Corbyn should have resigned ‘many, many, many months ago’ because of his handling of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis
But his party critics said the results demonstrated the ‘utter failure of Corbyn & Corbynism’ as they also hit out over his eye-wateringly expensive manifesto and handling of the party’s anti-Semitism crisis.
Numerous Labour big beasts had earlier put the boot in as former home secretary Alan Johnson said Mr Corbyn was ‘worse than useless’ while former shadow chancellor Ed Balls slammed the attempt to blame Brexit as he said that was ‘not going to wash at all’.
n ashen-faced John McDonnell said the results were ‘extremely disappointing’ as he all but conceded defeat right at the start of the night as ballot papers began to be counted.
Jeremy Corbyn tonight announced he will stand down as Labour leader after the party sunk to a devastating set of election results
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured leaving his London home just after 11pm last night, was under intense pressure to step down from furious Labour MP candidates
Mr Corbyn had arrived at the count in his Islington North constituency at 2.20am amid a storm over his leadership
Mr Corbyn trailed Mr Johnson in every opinion poll during the election campaign, with the vast majority giving the Tories a double digit lead over Labour.
An exit poll published at 10pm showed that pattern had continued, with the Tories on 44 per cent, Labour on 33 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 12 per cent, the Brexit Party on two per cent and the Green Party on three per cent.
Mr McDonnell said in the wake of the poll being announced that the numbers were ‘extremely disappointing’ and that the ‘appropriate decisions’ would be taken on the future of Mr Corbyn’s leadership once the results were fully known.
Speaking to BBC News, Mr McDonnell said: ‘I think Brexit has dominated, it has dominated everything by the looks of it.
‘We thought other issues could cut through and there would be a wider debate, from this evidence there clearly wasn’t.’
On the future of Mr Corbyn’s leadership, Mr McDonnell said: ‘Let’s see the results themselves, as I say, the appropriate decisions will be made and we’ll always make the decisions in the best interests of our party.’
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon also blamed Brexit for the party’s poor showing as he tweeted: ‘Disappointing Exit Poll. Let’s see if accurate. If, as it seems, this was a Brexit election then the next one won’t be given Johnson’s Thatcherite agenda.
‘And Johnson must continue to be fought with radical alternatives, not triangulation, that challenge the Tories head-on.’
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said it was ‘clearly a bad night for Labour’ but she had appeared to suggest that she wanted Mr Corbyn to stay on as leader as she said ‘we still need a leadership that fights for the many, not the few’.
The exit poll numbers prompted savage criticism from numerous Labour big beasts as they called for an end to Mr Corbyn’s leadership of the party.
Former Labour MP Mr Johnson who stood down in 2017 said if the exit poll proved to be correct, the party’s losses would be purely down to Mr Corbyn’s unpopularity on the doorstep.
Speaking to ITV News, Mr Johnson said: ‘It’s Corbyn, it’s Corbyn. The Corbynistas will make an argument that victory is a bourgeois concept, that ‘the only goal for true socialists is glorious bloody defeat’.
‘And now we’ve just had another one. And there’ll be all the conspiracy theories thrown about. It’s Corbyn. We knew that in Parliament.
‘We knew he was incapable of leading, we knew he was worse than useless at all the qualities you need to lead a political party.’
Mr Balls told ITV he believed voters’ security fears about Mr Corbyn had also played a big role in the party’s dire performance.
Referring to the March 2018 Novichok spy poisoning, he said: ‘Salisbury was quite immediate in people’s minds and the terror attack in London.
‘This manifesto had a much bigger price tag than 2017 and I’m afraid the accumulation of nationalisation and spending commitments meant that lots of Labour voters were saying ‘does it add up and who is going to pay for it?’
‘It wasn’t only about Brexit. It’s a line in the Corbyn team but it’s not going to wash at all.’
Alan Johnson, pictured on ITV this morning, said Jeremy Corbyn was ‘worse than useless at all the qualities you need to lead a political party’
Tonight’s general election exit poll showed the Tories were on course to win 44 per cent of the vote with Labour far behind on 33 per cent
The Conservatives tonight managed to win the Blythe Valley seat – a former mining area – for the first time since its creation in 1950. The constituency has always been represented by the Labour Party
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon tried to blame Brexit for the Labour Party’s poor general election showing
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott had appeared to suggest she wanted Mr Corbyn to stay on as leader as she said ‘we still need a leadership that fights for the many, not the few’
Labour MP candidate Caroline Flint said it was a ‘terrible night’ for the party as she said Mr Corbyn and Brexit were to blame
Labour’s previous worst tally came in 1935
Labour’s forecast tally of 203 seats would be the worst for the party since 1935.
But at that stage the leader, Clement Attlee, could claim the party was on an upward trajectory.
Labour increased its numbers on that occasion by 102, and its share of the popular vote by 7.4 per cent.
Attlee went on to serve in Winston Churchill’s wartime Cabinet, and then defeated the famous leader in 1945.
That Labour government created the NHS and arguably created the modern welfare state.
Former Labour spin doctor for Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell said the results were ‘dreadful’ but ‘all too predictable’.
‘The country decided some time ago Jeremy Corbyn not going to be PM and Boris Johnson made a promise on Brexit which enough people were prepared to believe,’ Mr Campbell said.
‘No doubt that he has a mandate for his withdrawal agreement now. The hard stuff then starts.’
Labour peer Andrew Adonis tweeted: ‘On the doorstep in this election, the biggest issue by far was Jeremy Corbyn. Essentially the election was a referendum on Corbyn. I had more doorstep conversations about the IRA than the fate of Brexit.’
Labour MP candidate Siobhain McDonagh said the party’s underwhelming projected seat numbers were ‘one man’s fault’: ‘His campaign, his manifesto, his leadership. @jeremycorbyn.’
A Labour spokesman had tried to put on a brave face on the numbers in the wake of the exit poll, saying in a statement: ‘We, of course, knew this was going to be a challenging election, with Brexit at the forefront of many people’s minds and our country increasingly polarised.
‘But Labour has changed the debate in British politics. We have put public ownership, a green industrial revolution, an end to austerity centre stage and introduced new ideas, such as plans for free broadband and free personal care. The Tories only offered more of the same.’
A leaked copy of Labour’s so-called ‘lines to take’ document – prompts given to senior figures ahead of appearances on TV – sparked fury among many of the party’s candidates because they suggested people should solely blame Brexit.
The document said ‘this defeat is overwhelmingly down to one issue – the divisions in the country over Brexit, and the Tory campaign, echoed by most of the media, to persuade people that only Boris Johnson can ‘get Brexit done”.
Ben Bradshaw, Labour’s candidate in Exeter, said that analysis of the result was ‘rubbish, as anyone who knocked on any doors in this campaign will tell you’.
‘We knocked on more than 20,000 doors in Exeter in six weeks and would be happy to share our data with whoever wrote this briefing,’ he tweeted.
Numerous Labour MP candidates put the boot into Mr Corbyn after the exit poll was published. Ian Murray, who is contesting Edinburgh South, said the Labour leader was a problem on the doorstep
Jess Phillips, Labour’s candidate in Birmingham Yardley, described the poll numbers as a ‘punch in the stomach’
Labour grandee Lord Falconer said last week that Mr Corbyn should resign and be replaced ‘as quickly as we reasonably can’ if he loses to Mr Johnson.
But one of Mr Corbyn’s staunchest allies, the founder of the Momentum campaign group Jon Lansman, said in the early hours of this morning that a decision on whether the leader should be replaced shouldn’t be taken ‘until the New Year’.
On whether Mr Corbyn should quit, Mr Lansman had said: ‘I think Jeremy has to make those decisions himself. You know Jeremy has always been a reluctant leader, I don’t think he’ll overstay his welcome.’
‘But I think he should be able to make decisions. And I don’t think we should rush into these things. Christmas is not far away, I don’t think decisions really need to be taken about this until the New Year.’
A number of female MPs have been mentioned as possible successors to Mr Corbyn, including Ms Rayner, Jess Phillips and Rebecca Long-Bailey.
Odds for Labour leadership contenders
Keir Starmer 3/1
Rebecca Long-Bailey 3/1
Yvette Cooper 8/1
Angela Rayner 10/1
John McDonnell 16/1
Lisa Nandy 16/1
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and North West Durham candidate Laura Pidcock could also figure in a leadership race.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer is also likely to be in the race.
Elected leader in 2015 with little support from his own MPs, Mr Corbyn has faced repeated plots to remove him since then.
He confounded those critics with an unexpectedly strong performance in the 2017 election, gaining seats and denying Theresa May a majority.
But since then his party has been engulfed in an anti-Semitism crisis and Mr Corbyn has been widely criticised for his handling of it.
During the campaign, he failed to apologise to Jewish people in a stormy interview with Andrew Neil.
In addition, Mr Corbyn’s equivocal stance on Brexit has infuriated many Remainers who wanted him to support cancelling Brexit.
Under pressure from party activists, Mr Corbyn finally agreed to back a second referendum.
However, he drew fresh criticism for pledging to be ‘neutral’ during a second referendum campaign.
Opening the door to cancelling Brexit may also have cost Labour votes in some of its heartlands where it is set to lose seats.