Jeremy Corbyn has announced he will resign as Labour leader, as the party heads for a seismic defeat at the hands of Boris Johnson and the Conservatives.
Speaking in his constituency in Islington North in the early hours of Friday morning, Corbyn said he will “not lead the party in any future general election campaign”.
Corbyn said he would not be stepping down immediately following the “very disappointing” result but would lead a “process of reflection”.
“I’m very proud of the achievements of our party and the development of its manifesto and its ideas,” he said. “Those ideas and those principles are eternal and they will be there for all time.”
Those in the frame to succeed Corbyn include Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry.
Boris Johnson held onto his Uxbridge seat with a majority of more than 7,000. He said the election was “a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done”.
With Labour’s worst result since 1935 forecast, the party’s so-called red wall of seats appeared to have crumbled.
Blame has been heaped on Corbyn himself, the party’s response to allegations of anti-Semitism within its ranks, its stance on Brexit, and the party’s shift to the left since the Islington North MP was elected leader in 2015.
He faced down a leadership challenge the following year and oversaw a huge swell in party membership.
In 2017 he defied expectations of a wipeout and prevented Theresa May from winning a majority. But he was unable to repeat the effort or do one better and win this time around.
The Tories took Blyth Valley, a Labour seat since 1950. Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman became the first senior figure to be deposed when she lost Workington to the Tories on a 10% swing.
More Labour seats across the north of England, the Midlands and Wales followed suit, including Bishop Auckland, Wolverhampton North East, West Bromwich West, Stockton South, Darlington, Peterborough, Blackpool South, Wrexham and the Vale of Clwyd.
Labour’s Ruth Smeeth, who lost her Stoke-on-Trent North, was among party figures to lay the blame squarely at Corbyn’s door. She told Sky News Laboue was now “the nasty party” and “the racist party” thanks to its record on anti-Semitism.
Labour’s re-elected Barking and Dagenham MP Margaret Hodge, who also clashed with Corbyn over his handling of anti-Semitism in their party tweeted: “Corbyn talking about a period of ‘reflection’. I’ve reflected. You failed. Please stand down.”
Long-Bailey said Brexit was the problem for the party. “We were a party that tried to bring together those who voted Leave and those who voted Remain and perhaps that wasn’t a position that satisfied many of our constituents and voters across the North particularly,” she said.
The few bright spots for Labour included winning the London seat of Putney from the Conservatives and holding onto the ultra-marginal Canterbury.
In other developments, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson lost her seat of East Dunbartonshire to the SNP by just 149 votes.
And DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, the party’s leader in Westminster, lost his seat to Sinn Fein.