LIVERPOOL: Left winger Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected British Labour leader on Saturday, seeing off a challenge from MPs but leaving the opposition party split as critics said it was even further from power than before.
Supporters in Liverpool, northwest England, leapt to their feet cheering as the 67-year-old was confirmed winner with 61.8 per cent of the vote among party members and supporters, easily defeating rival MP Owen Smith.
In his acceptance speech, Corbyn urged unity, pledging to “wipe the slate clean” after accusations of bullying by supporters and fears of an irreparable breach between left-wingers and centrists.
“We have much more in common than that which divides us. As far as I’m concerned, let’s wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work we’ve got to do as a party together,” he said.
Corbyn increased his vote share from the 59.5 per cent he received on his initial election last year, when he put an anti-austerity, anti-nuclear agenda at the forefront of British politics for the first time in a generation.
His commanding victory is a major blow to Labour MPs who rebelled against him after June’s Brexit vote, many of them moderates who believe his socialist views will never be accepted by most voters.
Corbyn was accused of lacklustre campaigning for Britain staying in the European Union, and many now fear he cannot provide the necessary opposition as Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives negotiate the terms of withdrawal.