13/12/2019 13:33 GMT | Updated 13/12/2019 14:55 GMT

Jeremy Corbyn Signals Labour Leadership Election Early In New Year

Leader says he will stand down in "early part of next year" after crushing defeat in party's working class heartlands.

A contest for the Labour leadership is under way after Jeremy Corbyn’s party was decimated at the ballot box.  

Speaking to broadcasters after a humiliating general election, the Labour leader announced said he was “very sad” at the party’s worst general election result in more than 80 years but would stay in the role “until somebody is elected to succeed me”. 

Claiming he was misrepresented in the media, he added that he has “pride in our manifesto and all of the policies that we put forward”.

He added: “I did everything that I could, of course I take full responsibility for putting the manifesto forward.” 

When asked about his timetable to leave as leader, Corbyn said there would be a “period of good discussion”, adding: “I was elected to lead the party and I think the responsible thing to do is not to walk away from the whole thing and I won’t do that. 

“I will stay here until somebody is elected to succeed me and I will step down at that point.” 

But he signalled it could be as soon as January.

He said: “The National Executive will have to meet, of course, in the very near future and it is up to them. It will be in the early part of next year.”

A number of re-elected MPs are tipped to enter the fray, including Wigan’s Lisa Nandy, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, campaigning MP Jess Phillips and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner.

It comes as the Conservatives were on course for a majority of at least 80, having toppled Labour in totemic seats such as Dennis Skinner’s Bolsover and Tony Blair’s former stomping ground of Sedgefield. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn 

Corbyn attempted to address some of the criticisms levelled at the party and the leader since the defeat.

He said: “I’ve done everything I could to lead this party. I’ve done everything I could to develop its policies, and since I became leader the membership has more than doubled and the party has developed a very serious […] and fully costed manifesto, and I’ve received more personal abuse than any other leader has ever received by a great deal of the media.”

When asked if Labour’s policies were too left-wing for the electorate, he said: “Is ending Universal Credit, paying the WASPI women and having a green industrial revolution too left wing?

“They are huge issues that face our country, and I think our manifesto did face up to all of that”

Turning to his leadership and claims of anti-Semitism which have dogged the party, Corbyn said: “Of the attacks that have been made on me, I have dealt with the issues that have been raised.”

He added: “I think antisemitism is an absolute evil curse on our society and I always condemn it […] and always will.”