Jeremy Corbyn Quits As Labour Leader After Election Thumping
Following a surprise heavy loss in the British election, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn will stand down.
Boris Johnson's Conservatives party has taken government, notching up the necessary 326 seats on Friday afternoon (AEDT). An exit poll showed the party winning a landslide 368 seats, a comfortable majority in the 650-seat parliament and the biggest Conservative national election win since Margaret Thatcher's 1987 triumph.
Labour were forecast by the poll to win 191 seats, the worst result for the party since 1935. The Scottish National Party would win 55 seats and the Liberal Democrats 13, the poll said. The Brexit Party were not forecast to win any.
Corbyn, who retained his own seat but could not lead his party to an overall victory, said he will stay on for a period of "reflection" but will not lead Labour to the next election. He said he will remain in politics as the local member for Islington North.
"I will discuss with our party to ensure there is a process now of reflection, on this result, and on the policies that the party will take going forward." Corbyn said after he was announced as winning his Islington North seat.
"I want to also make it clear that I will not lead the party in any future general election campaign."
Corbyn said he will stay on as Labour's head as that reflection process takes place "and we move on into the future", but did not lay out a concrete timeline for his departure as leader.
Johnson will remain Prime Minister, retaining office with a clear majority.
Johnson has claimed his victory as a mandate for his Brexit plan, which wil again be considered by the British parliament in the New Year.
"At this stage it does look as though this one-nation Conservative government has been given a powerful new mandate, to get Brexit done and not just to get Brexit done but to unite this country and to take it forward," Johnson said after it was announced he had won his seat of Uxbridge.
"I think this will turn out to be a historic election that gives us now, in this new government, the chance to respect the democratic will of the British people, to change this country for the better and to unleash the potential of the entire people of this country."
Corbyn said Brexit had contributed to the election result, claiming the issue had polarised debate.
While thanking supporters and voters, Corbyn also took aim at what he called "disgusting" and "disgraceful" attacks on the families of politicians.
"I'm very proud of the way that we fought this election campaign, we did not descend into the gutter. We did not undertake personal abuse. We undertook the task of getting a message of hope and justice to every part of this country," he said.
"I will remain the MP for Islington North and I'm proud to represent the people of Islington North and I'm proud in Parliament and outside that we will continue to cause for socialism, for social justice, based on the needs of all rather than the greed of a few."
Johnson now faces the daunting task of negotiating a trade agreement with the European Union, possibly in just 11 months. After January 31, Britain will enter a transition period during which it will negotiate a new relationship with the remaining 27 EU states.
This can run until the end of December 2022 under the current rules, but the Conservatives made an election promise not to extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020.
Johnson fought the election under the slogan of "Get Brexit Done", promising to end the deadlock and spend more on health, education and the police.
He was helped early in the election by Farage's Brexit Party which stood down hundreds of candidates in a bid to prevent the pro-Brexit vote from being split. Early results showed the Brexit Party had poached a significant number of voters from Labour.