Sadiq Khan urges Labour members to ditch Jeremy Corbyn as he backs Owen Smith for leader
Sadiq Khan has urged Labour members to ditch their support for Jeremy Corbyn as he backed Owen Smith to become the party’s next leader.
The Mayor of London argued “we cannot afford to go on like this” as he launched a blistering attack on Mr Corbyn’s performance in the top job, citing the EU referendum and recent polling as evidence.
He argued while Mr Corbyn is a “principled Labour man” whose ideas have galvanised many people, his tenure in charge illustrates it is “extremely unlikely” he can lead Labour to power.
Mr Smith said he was “honoured” to receive Mr Khan’s support.
Writing in the Observer, Mr Khan said the Labour leader had “totally failed” during the referendum to get his message across to voters.
"Why would things be different in a general election?" he asked.
"Jeremy has already proved that he is unable to organise an effective team and has failed to win the trust and respect of the British people,” he continued.
"Jeremy's personal ratings are the worst of any opposition leader on record and the Labour party is suffering badly as a result.
"He has lost the confidence of more than 80% of Labour's MPs in Parliament - and I am afraid we simply cannot afford to go on like this."
On the EU referendum, Mr Khan argued the incumbent had “failed to show the leadership we desperately needed” during and after the plebiscite.
"And you can't just blame a 'hostile media' and let Jeremy and his team off the hook,” he said.
"I know from my own election - up against a nasty and divisive Tory campaign - that if we are strong and clear enough in our convictions, the message will get through to the public.
"That's a test that Jeremy totally failed in the EU referendum. Why would things be different in a general election?
"His position on EU membership was never clear - and voters didn't believe him."
Mr Corbyn has previously argued his stance on the EU referendum was in tune with British voters.
Outlining his support for the challenger, Mr Smith, Mr Khan explained:
"On the big issues Owen and I have been on the same side of the argument, including opposing the Iraq War.
"Owen led and - more importantly - won our fight against the Tories' unfair cuts to tax credits and disability allowances, which would have hurt the most disadvantaged people in our society."
He added: “Simply opposing Tory policies will never be enough to help the people we exist to support. At best, you knock off just the very sharpest edges of the Tory project.
“Winning elections is how you really make a difference. Only then are you in control – able to shape the agenda and implement Labour policies to create a fairer and more equal society.”
The former shadow work and pensions secretary said he was “hugely honoured” to have received the backing of the London Mayor.
"Sadiq ran a fantastic campaign to win power for Labour in London this year, securing a huge mandate from party members and the electorate," he said.
"He showed that a vision of hope and optimism can win, if it's backed up with a credible plan to deliver real meaningful change for people's lives.
"Since that election we have already seen what a difference Labour can make when we hold power."
The winner of the Labour leadership contest will be announced on 24 September.