01/03/2017 15:42 GMT | Updated 01/03/2017 15:56 GMT

Jeremy Corbyn's Spokesman Says Labour Will Lose A General Election At Current Polling Levels

Admission defies claims of 'incredible achievement' in Copeland.

Labour is trailing by up to 18-points behind the Conservatives

Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman has issued a frank warning about the party’s electoral fate if its standing does not improve in the polls before a general election.

The Labour leader’s spokesman seemed to confirm criticism from Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, who said yesterday that the party would lose in 2020 if “nothing changes”.

Speaking after Labour failed to hold Copeland in last week’s by-election, Starmer had warned the party had “no prospect” of winning a general election after the “very bad result”.

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Starmer was damning about Labour's performance in Copeland

Other senior Labour frontbenchers had dismissed criticism of their party’s performance in the Cumbrian seat, with shadow deputy leader of the Commons Cat Smith heralding it as an “incredible achievement”.

But Corbyn’s spokesman seemed himself to admit for the first time that the party would not beat Theresa May’s party if the polls remain unmoved or were worse by 2020.

Recalling Starmer’s comments, the official told reporters after today’s PMQs: “He said if nothing changes, then Labour won’t be winning a general election and clearly if the current level of support in the opinion polls were to continue that would clearly be the case.

“But we are confident that that level of support will change and the gap between Labour and the Tories will close."

The latest ICM/ Guardian poll gave the Conservatives an 18-point lead. 

It found that the Tories were on 44%, up two points, while Labour were on 26%, down one. UKIP were on 13% and the Liberal Democrats on 8%.

Corbyn blamed his poll standing on the media at the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on 20 February.