An east London MP has praised Jeremy Corbyn’s performance in the general election campaign and warned of difficult times ahead for Theresa May.
Labour’s Jim Fitzpatrick, who held his Poplar and Limehouse seat with 67% of the vote, has previously been an outspoken critic of his party’s leader and warned he was not the right person to lead Labour into an election following the EU referendum.
However, after Labour surprised critics with a successful campaign and better results than had been predicted on June 8, leading the UK into its second hung parliament in seven years, Mr Fitzpatrick has praised Mr Corbyn’s handling of the election.
He said: “I was completely surprised. It was unbelievable. When you consider that five weeks ago we were looking at an absolute defeat, we have come out of this in a way that no one could have imagined.
“When you look at the two national campaigns, the wheels came off Theresa May’s campaign very early on with her backtracking and negative messages. Strong and stable became weak and wobbly within a week. It was a complete disaster for the Conservatives.
“The negativity of their campaign completely backfired on them. People want a different kind of politics and Jeremy Corbyn was offering that. He has completely out-performed everyone’s expectations of him.
“He will stay on as leader. We have all these new colleagues who will feel in some way indebted to him, and a lot of other colleagues who were staring defeat in the face a few weeks ago and have been saved in part because of the campaign he ran. Jeremy is in a far safer place than the prime minister.”
The Conservatives won 318 seats in the election, losing 12 seats and coming in short for the 326 seats required for a majority. Labour has 261 seats, a gain of 29 but still too few to form a government. One seat, Kensington, has not yet declared at the time of writing.
Mrs May is expected to seek permission from the Queen to form a government on Friday, June 9. It is believed the Conservatives have come to an understanding with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) who won 10 seats.
Mr Fitzpatrick said he remained concerned at the prospect of an alliance between the Conservatives and the DUP and criticised the government for the austerity measures and cuts to the NHS and schools which he said have “created a lot of negative impacts in Tower Hamlets.”
He added: “Theresa May is in a difficult position. She called an election she promised she wasn’t going to call, and expected to win a considerable majority so she could serve her five years comfortably. She pretended it was all about Brexit when it wasn’t about Brexit at all.
“There’s a huge amount of relief in the Labour party. We’re in better shape than we were before this election while the Conservatives are weaker. Normally they are very ruthless when a leader disappoints them.
“Brexit negotiations start in 10 days and the government is in a mess. There is still everything to play for.”
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