'I am very sorry': Corbyn apologises to MPs for election loss and 'urges them to reject PM's Brexit deal', reports say

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks

Jeremy Corbyn was heavily criticised by Labour MPs for his party's worst general election result since 1935, as the first candidates to replace him as leader begin to emerge.

In the first meeting between the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) since last week's defeat, former MP Mary Creagh accused the outgoing leader of being a "preening narcissist" who was responsible for the devastating loss for Labour.

Meanwhile Rachel Reeves MP said there were "a lot of excuses" given by the leadership at the meeting in the House of Commons.

The Leeds West MP also called on the party to "face up" to the reality of the electoral defeat - or face the possibility of never winning again.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer appeared to throw his hat into the race to replace Mr Corbyn, telling the Guardian that he was "seriously considering" whether to run for Labour's top job.

In the newspaper, he said the party needed to return to being a "broad church" and that Labour should have challenged Boris Johnson's mantra to "get Brexit done".

He added: "There's no hiding from it. It is a devastating result, but it's important not to oversteer. The case for a bold and radical Labour government is as strong now as it was last Thursday. We need to anchor ourselves in that.

"I want trust to be restored in the Labour party as a progressive force for good: and that means we have to win. But there's no victory without values."

At a meeting with the Parliamentary Labour Party on Tuesday evening, Mr Corbyn reportedly apologised and took responsibility for the defeat.

But it is understood the Labour leader also piled blame onto Brexit, claiming it was a major reason Labour lost voters' trust as he told MPs they must listen to those they have lost.

Mr Corbyn is understood to have said the election was "ultimately about Brexit", despite his best efforts to take debate away from the issue, and he said it was a "major - although not the only - reason" the voters did not back the party.

Sir Keir Starmer said he was 'seriously considering' whether to run for the Labour leadership. Credit: PA

It is also reported he instructed the MPs to reject Mr Johnson's Brexit Bill because the prime minister has imposed an "impossible" timetable to get a trade deal with the EU.

He reportedly told MPs he will stay on until a new leader is elected to ensure "the smoothest possible transition for the sake of the party as a whole and for those Labour mayors and councillors who are up for re-election in May".

"Whoever the next leader is," he said, "they will need the party to come together for those elections and to oppose Boris Johnson's Conservatives."

Mr Corbyn claimed a reason he lost the election was because of the prime minister's ability to persuade voters he could "get Brexit done".

"That will soon be exposed for the falsehood it is," he is understood to have told the meeting.

Former Labour MP Mary Creagh, who lost her seat at the general election, hit out at Jeremy Corbyn following the PLP meeting.

She said: "What they were saying on the doorsteps in Wakefield is simply not repeatable before the watershed."

Ms Creagh said no senior Labour figures had been in touch since last week's vote, adding: "I've had no phone calls or messages from anyone in Jeremy or his team."

She described the Labour leader as a "preening narcissist" who still "thinks he's still got something left to offer our Labour movement".

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves also criticised Corbyn following the PLP meeting.

She said: "There were a lot of excuses from the leadership, that people didn't vote, that turnout wasn't high enough, that the Tories campaigned too hard in seats that had always been Labour, that the mainstream media hadn't given us a fair run.

"But everyone who knocked on the door during the general election knows the biggest drag on our support was Jeremy Corbyn."

She added: "Unless we face up to those realities, we are never going to win again."

Looking ahead to a vote on the PM's Brexit deal, Mr Corbyn is understood to have said: "On Friday, we have the debate on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB)," he is understood to have told the PLP.

"We will vote against it because by putting an impossible timetable for a good deal with the EU, Boris Johnson has already shown that his priority is a toxic deal with Donald Trump that will sell out our NHS and risk the safety of our food."

"And the WAB significantly risks undermining the Good Friday Agreement," he added.