Jeremy Corbyn is not the cause of Labour’s woes, says Norwich MP

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Norwich MP Clive Lewis has insisted Jeremy Corbyn is not the cause of Labour's woes after the party's crushing defeat in the Copeland by-election.

He said the result in Cumbria was 'not good enough' as he reiterated his call for a progressive alliance in politics.

Mr Lewis was speaking after the Conservatives won Copeland, which had been held by Labour since 1935, in the first by-election gain by a governing party since 1982.

There was some consolation for Labour in Stoke-on-Trent Central, where it saw off a concerted challenge from Ukip leader Paul Nuttall - albeit with a reduced majority.

Mr Lewis said that while it was 'good news' they had kept out Mr Nuttall in Stoke, he warned the UK Independence Party should not be written off.

'They can still lose elections for political parties. They can still take from one and give to another allowing other parties to come through.'

But the former shadow business secretary, said: 'It is not good enough what has happened in Copeland.'

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He insisted the Mr Corbyn - who he has backed in two leadership elections - should not be the scapegoat for the defeat.

'If anyone believes that physically changing the rider on a white charger is going to solve the problems that all political parties, but ours in particular, face at this time, they are sadly mistaken. It is a shortcut.

'If you are still going to tackle deindustrialisation, the inequality, lack of quality of jobs, if you want to challenge power and the establishment, if you are going to do all the things that are going to shake this country up and make it a better place, you are going to have to tackle a lot of vested interests, including the media who are going to turn on you.

'We have to got to work out how we are going to build alliances with people who share our values across the political parties, but also those outside politics. Until that is grasped we will continue to see what has happened continue. It is too easy for people to think chop off the head and put on a new head and everything will get better, and I don't think that is going to happen.'

The Norfolk MP, who resigned from the shadow cabinet over Mr Cobryn's firm stance on triggering Article 50, also said the party needed to find a solution which reached out to both the 48pc [who voted remain] and the 52pc [who voted to leave].

'You can't just swing over to the 48pc or the 52pc,' he added.

He accused the UK Independence Party of pulling out in Copeland to give the Conservatives a free run, and claimed the Tories had pulled out in Stoke to give Paul Nuttall a free run. Although the Conservatives only came in 79 votes behind UKIP.

He described the decision by the Conservatives and the UK Independence Party not to stand in Richmond as a 'regressive alliance'.

Although the Liberal Democrats were victorious in the London poll.

'If the right of politics can game the first past the post system then so should those on the centre and left. Copeland shows that,' he said.

'The party has to make sure it has a balanced position which reaches out to both the 48 and the 52. There are those in both the 48 and 52 camps who want to drive an unrelenting position on people. It is not a solution for our party. You have got to find something that appeals to everyone. A pragmatic approach. I think if Labour can reach out and explain we need to get the best possible deal we can and have the best possible relationship with Europe. That is where the majority of people are.'

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