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EXCL Labour MP says party would be performing better with 'almost any other leader'

2 min read

Labour would be performing better with "almost any other leader" than Jeremy Corbyn, one of the party's backbenchers has said.

Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle said Mr Corbyn was "part of the problem" following a disappointing local election performance.

Mr Coyle is the first Labour MP to openly blame the party's leader for its failure to make progress in the latest test of public opinion.

With around half of results in, Labour has lost nearly 80 councillors as well as control of the local authorities in Bolsover, Hartlepool, Wirral and Stoke.

"Labour canvassers and activists who have been slogging their guts out for the party know what voters are telling us," said Mr Coyle.

"Corbyn is part of the problem. Labour would do better with the same domestic policies and almost any other leader."

Jess Phillips, another critic of the Labour leader, said the party must change tack on Brexit.

She tweeted: "I'm off to bed as have to be up at 7am to do the school run. My final word is that I think our position on Brexit has failed. Bravery is needed. If you combine kindness and effectiveness with a bit of grit most people will respect you even when they don't always agree."

A former Labour frontbencher told PoliticsHome that dissatisfaction with Mr Corbyn was just one reason why voters were deserting the party.

The MP said: "The reasons people gave for voting against us or just not voting all were about one-third Corbyn, one-third Brexit - from both sides - and one-third local issues."

However, Mr Corbyn stressed that Labour had enjoyed some successes - including in taking control of Trafford Council and was making progress in "Tory heartlands".

He said: "Throughout the campaign, we have been putting forward our vision of a better society, and the need to end the austerity imposed on our communities by the Conservatives, along with the Liberal Democrats when they were in the coalition government.

"As well as local issues, voters have been talking to us about how the Tories' shambolic handling of Brexit is overshadowing everything else. We will continue putting our case for an alternative deal to Parliament, and we will put that case to the European Union, because Labour does not want to divide people on how they voted in 2016, we want to bring people together.

"I congratulate all the Labour councillors who have been elected, and I am sorry for those who were not successful. We will fight and win those seats back and, whenever a general election comes, we are absolutely ready for it."

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Engineering a Better World

The Engineering a Better World podcast series from The House magazine and the IET is back for series two! New host Jonn Elledge discusses with parliamentarians and industry experts how technology and engineering can provide policy solutions to our changing world.

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