Labour faces ‘existential crisis’ after election drubbing, leadership candidate admits

Jane Dalton
Mr Lewis, pictured with Emily Thornberry, said Labour MPs should use the leadership contest to listen to one another: Getty Images

Labour faces an "existential crisis" in the wake of a general election drubbing overseen by Jeremy Corbyn, leadership candidate Clive Lewis has claimed.

Issuing a plea for unity after the party suffered a historic election defeat, the shadow treasury minister said when you were on a cliff edge, it was better to work with the people “dangling with you” than to attack them.

The Norwich South MP, who declared his candidacy last month, was responding to questions about the analysis of Ian Lavery, the party chairman, who said Labour lost because of “our Brexit position, infighting, a collapse of industry in our communities and a lack of trust in our ability to deliver”.

Mr Lewis tweeted that “if we use the coming [Labour leadership] elections as a lens through which to listen to each other, we can work out a path ahead".

He added: “Because Ian Lavery is correct to say we face an existential crisis as a party.

“As such, when you’re hanging by the fingernails on a cliff edge, it’s usually not a good time to start fighting with those dangling with you. Far better is to help each other work out the way back up the cliff face.”

The MP has placed himself on the left of the party, pledging to go further than Mr Corbyn in giving party members a say on policy and the selection of MPs.

Emily Thornberry, another candidate for the leadership, accused Boris Johnson of being a “vicious populist imitator” of Donald Trump.

The shadow foreign secretary said: “I hope in November our long global nightmare will be over and Donald Trump will be dumped out of office by the American people, and we will finally see the United States resume its role as a global leader on the issues that matter to us all.

“And what’s more, Trump’s defeat would hopefully turn the tide on his vicious band of so-called ‘populist’ imitators around the globe, including our current PM.”

Additional reporting by PA

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