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Keir Starmer says Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was ‘number one’ issue voters had on election doorstep

Sir Keir said voters had repeatedly raised Mr Corbyn’s leadership on the doorstep.

2 min read

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was the “number one” issue with Labour raised by voters on last year’s campaign trail, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The new Labour leader, who took over from Mr Corbyn in the top job last month, told the Financial Times that “fair or unfair” criticism of his predecessor had dominated conversations with voters.

He said: “The topic of conversation was always what was coming up . . . anybody who knocks on doors knows a number of things came up.

“The leadership of Labour party was number one, fair or unfair.”

Sir Keir also took aim at the “overload” of Labour’s manifesto,  which included a string of policies on nationalisation, worker ownership of companies, and decarbonisation.

“People thought there was too much in it and because there was too much in it they didn’t believe any of it,” he told the FT.

And the Labour leader hit back at claims his own bid to secure backing for a second referendum on EU membership - a move that met fierce resistance from others in the Shadow Cabinet - had been the decisive factor in the party losing heavily to the Conservatives. 

He said: “There’s no pretending that there was an easy position that the Labour party could have adopted [on Brexit] that would have pleased everybody across our party and all of our voters.”

Pointing to continued criticism of the party’s handling of anti-semitism complaints, Sir Keir said: “So Brexit was one of the issues for sure, but anybody who thinks that ‘but for the Brexit issue Labour would have won’ I think is probably heading for problems at the next [election].”

The new Labour leader’s comments come after a wide-ranging Shadow Cabinet reshuffle which saw a string of Corbynite frontbenchers including John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon replaced with figures from the party’s soft-left.


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