Jeremy Corbyn blames Starmer ‘agreeing with Johnson too much’ for elections debacle

Jeremy Corbyn has blamed Labour’s “bizarre” campaigning and Keir Starmer “agreeing with the government” for the party’s elections humbling.

The former Labour leader also hit out at the failure to end his suspension from the parliamentary party, warning that “is what very large numbers of Labour party members also think”.

And he backed Angela Rayner, the deputy leader, after her bust-up with Sir Keir, saying: “She has a mandate and that should be respected.”

After Labour’s crushing defeat in the Hartlepool by-election and the loss of hundreds of council seats, Peter Mandelson and other party figures blamed the hangover from Mr Corbyn’s failed leadership.

But he told ITV News: “I think it’s a bit rich to start blaming me for stuff that’s been done over the past year that I’ve had absolutely no part of whatsoever.

“I do think that dumping on somebody because they’re not there anymore is a bit weak. Do I take responsibility for it? No.”

Instead, Mr Corbyn turned on Sir Keir’s tactics, saying: “People didn’t feel confident in what the policy offer was and, rather bizarrely, the leadership launched the local election campaign on the basis of national policies – whereas, of course, it’s a local election.”

He also criticised his successor’s policy of backing the government when it believed it was making the correct decisions during the crisis brought by the pandemic.

“I think there’s the feeling that Labour had done too much agreeing with the government when many people’s experience of Covid is one of fear,” the former leader said.

“We ended up being seen as a party that basically agreed with the whole government strategy.”

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