Jeremy Corbyn was the main reason why voters chose not to back the Labour Party at the general election, according to a new poll.
Mr Corbyn has announced he will step down as leader after Labour crashed to its worst set of results since 1935, finishing with just 203 MPs.
The Labour leader and his allies have insisted that he is not to blame for the party’s dire performance as they have pointed the finger at Brexit.
But an Opinium survey, conducted on the day of the election, showed Mr Corbyn and the party leadership was the most cited reason among voters for not backing Labour.
Of all the people who did not vote Labour, some 43 per cent said the main reason was the leadership.
The party’s tortured Brexit stance was the second most cited reason on 17 per cent with Labour’s hard-left economic policies coming in third on 12 per cent.
The pattern was exactly the same for people who did vote Labour in 2017 but chose not to this time around.
Leadership was the main reason for 37 per cent of those defectors, followed by the party’s neutral Brexit stance on 21 per cent with economic policies third on six per cent.
For voters who previously backed Labour but yesterday backed the Tories, the numbers were 45 per cent on leadership, 31 per cent on Brexit and six per cent on economic policies.
Some 43 per cent of voters who did not back Labour said the reason was the party’s leadership
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in London today, has refused to take any of the blame for Labour’s dismal election performance
Mr Corbyn has indicated he will quit as Labour leader in the early part of next year as the 70-year-old bowed to pressure to quit but refused to go immediately.
Speaking about the timetable for him to leave, 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.’
Mr Corbyn has refused to accept any of the blame for Labour’s disastrous day at the ballot box as he blamed an apparent focus on Brexit for the party’s poor showing.
He said: ‘I have pride in our manifesto that we put forward, and all the policies we put forward, which actually had huge public support.
‘But this election was taken over ultimately by Brexit and we as a party represent people who voted both Remain and Leave.
‘My whole strategy was to reach out beyond the Brexit divide to try and bring people together, because ultimately the country has to come together.’
Labour saw a string of its strongholds fall to the Tories on election night and Mr Corbyn said he would not be leading the party into another national ballot.
Speaking after retaining his Islington North seat, he said he intended to take Labour through a ‘process of reflection’ while it considered the way forward.
‘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,’ he said.
‘And I will lead the party during that period to ensure that discussion takes place and we move on into the future.’
He was rounded on by angry Labour MPs, peers, and defeated candidates, who said his leadership was to blame for their catastrophic showing as they called on him to go.
Labour former home secretary Lord Blunkett told the BBC: ‘I think Jeremy should go now.
‘There should be an interim leader agreed between the National Executive and the parliamentary party – perhaps somebody like Hilary Benn.
‘It would really help if the clique that runs the Labour Party at the moment just said sorry.
‘I haven’t heard one of them apologise to all those who lost their seats last night.’
Veteran MP Dame Margaret Hodge, a long-standing critic, said the result represented the rejection of the entire Corbyn project and that it was time for him to quit.
She said that, under his leadership, Labour had become the ‘nasty party’, with anti-Semitism allowed to flourish.
‘People just didn’t trust the economics, the confetti of promises that was thrown at the public without any clear and honest way they were going to be paid for,’ she told the BBC.
‘People didn’t trust us with the national security of the nation. People didn’t trust Mr Corbyn with looking after them.
‘Labour has become the nasty party. I am one of the victims of that with the anti-Semitism.’
Phil Wilson, who lost Tony Blair’s former seat of Sedgefield to the Tories, said attempts by the leadership to put the result down to Brexit was ‘mendacious nonsense’.
‘Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was a bigger problem. To say otherwise is delusional. The party’s leadership went down like a lead balloon on the doorstep,’ he said.