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Jeremy Corbyn says Labour could have won 2017 election if it had not been for coup attempt the year before

Jeremy Corbyn was Labour leader for nearly five years.

3 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has claimed Labour could have won the 2017 election if it had not been for the attempt to unseat him as leader the year before.

The former Labour leader said the party's election manifesto had been "very much in tune with the way people were feeling".

But he said a lack of unity 12 months previously had scuppered any chance of him becoming Prime Minister.

Mr Corbyn suffered a wave of frontbench resignations in the aftermath of the EU referendum in 2016.

He then lost a vote of confidence by Labour MPs and faced a leadership challenge by Owen Smith.

But he was comfortably re-elected and led the party into the following year's general election.

Despite defying expectations and winning 40% of the vote and denying Theresa May a majority, Labour still finished 55 seats behind the Conservatives.

In his first interview since standing down as leader a week ago, Mr Corbyn told the Benn Society: "We went into the general election in 2017 when they’d all written us off, and were astonished at how close we got to winning.

"We were within a whisker of winning that general election."

He added: "Had the party been more united than we had been in 2016, I’m absolutely confident we could have won that general election, because it was all absolutely going our way and our manifesto was very much in tune with the way people were feeling."

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Corbyn also threw his weight behind calls for the mandatory reselection of Labour MPs before every election.

And he insisted he would continue to campaign from the backbenches in the future.

He said: "My own view is that democracy is best served when all members are fully involved in selection processes, and that MPs themselves are accountable to that process. In truth, most MPs have very little to fear from that process indeed.

"I think the points that Richard Burgon made during his deputy leadership campaign about bringing back mandatory reselection were actually well made and well taken, and I think it is an issue that will come up again."

Mr Corbyn added: "I won’t be going on world tours sponsored by any big business organisations, I have no directorships and don’t intend to have any - I’m not interested in that sort of life or activity at all.

"My job will be being MP for Islington North. It will be a lot of writing about the experience of the last five years and ideas for the future, and it will also be a lot of campaigning work and supporting different organisations and campaigns.

"I’ve offered to help also with political education in the party, and in unions before. Because surely the experience of life ought to be something one passes on for future generations to at least understand what went on? My political activity is not going to diminish in the slightest: I’ll be as busy as I’ve always been."

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