25 Sep 2016

Jeremy Corbyn re-elected UK Labour leader

8:05 am on 25 September 2016

Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected as leader of the UK's Labour Party, comfortably defeating his challenger Owen Smith.

He won 61.8 percent of the vote, a larger margin of victory than last year.

Jeremy corbyn

Mr Corbyn was re-elected in a leadership contest that was triggered by a motion of no confidence. Photo: AFP

Mr Corbyn vowed to bring Labour back together, saying, "We have much more in common than divides us", and insisting the party could win the next election as the "engine of progress" in the country.

More than half a million party members, trade unionists and registered supporters voted in the contest.

In a result announced on the eve of Labour's party conference in Liverpool, Mr Corbyn won 313,209 votes, compared with Mr Smith's 193,229.

Mr Corbyn said the debate about who led the party was "now over" and Labour needed to take its message on the economy, education and the NHS to the country.

Asked what steps he would take to reassure critical MPs, he said the return of shadow cabinet elections was "absolutely in the mix", although he declined to rule out the possible deselection of sitting MPs in the run-up to the next election.

"I think you will see a lot of changes over the next few weeks," he said.

"They [MPs] have no need to worry at all because it is all about democracy. We are all democratically accountable to our party and to our constituents. They have no need to worry at all. I am reaching out."

Victory will be sweet - not just because it is a confirmation of his remarkable support among thousands upon thousands of members around the country.

It is Mr Corbyn's second defeat of the Labour establishment, who many of his supporters believe have tried to undermine the leader consistently over the last 12 months.

They talk of a "surge in the purge" as the leadership contest progressed - party officials vetting and checking new supporters who had registered to vote.

There are claims that Labour headquarters deliberately threw Corbyn supporters off the voting lists to reduce the size of his victory.

Corbyn supporters believe many MPs have done nothing in the past year other than try to damage his leadership and today they will be shown to have failed badly in their attempt to oust him.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Corbyn said he was "honoured" to have been elected in a contest that followed months of tension with many Labour MPs and urged people to "respect the democratic choice that has been made".

Addressing supporters, Mr Corbyn said he and his opponents were part of the "same Labour family" and everyone needed to focus their energy "on exposing and defeating the Tories".

"We have much more in common than divides us," he said.

"Let us wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work that we have to do as a party."

Owen Smith, who had previously ruled out returning to the front bench, said he respected the result and the onus was on Mr Corbyn to "heal divisions and unite our movement".

"Jeremy has won the contest," he said. "He now has to win the country and he will have my support in trying to do so."

Despite winning the leadership in a vote of the wider membership and registered supporters last year, Mr Corbyn, who spent three decades as part of a marginalised leftwing group of Labour MPs in Parliament, has never had the support of more than about 20 percent of Labour's MPs.

And the contest came about after more than 170 MPs supported a motion of no confidence in their leader - that confidence vote came after dozens quit his shadow cabinet and other frontbench roles.

The Conservatives said Mr Corbyn's re-election would not end the "bitter power struggle" within the opposition.

"172 Labour MPs don't think Jeremy Corbyn can lead the Labour Party - so how can he lead the country?" Conservative Party chair Patrick McLoughlin said.


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