Clive Lewis calls for 'reflection and analysis' after Labour party losses
PUBLISHED: 04:45 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 04:45 13 December 2019
Re-elected Labour MP Clive Lewis said the party needed to analyse its position following a torrid night which saw it predicted to lose dozens of seats.
Mr Lewis was returned in Norwich South following Thursday's poll, but with a reduced majority compared to 2017's election.
He secured 27,766 votes - 53.5pc of the vote share and a majority of 12,760 over the Conservative candidate Dr Mike Spencer.
There were 4,776 votes for Liberal Democrat candidate James Wright, 2,469 votes for Green Party candidate Catherine Rowett and 1,656 votes for the Brexit Party's Sandy Gilchrist. Overall turnout was 66.6pc, slightly down on 2017's 69.2pc turnout.
It came amid a traumatic night for the Labour party, which exit polls predicted would lose more than 60 seats to scrape its lowest total in decades.
The night also saw Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was returned as MP for his Islington North constituency, announce he would not lead the party into another election.
Speaking after the results were declared at St Andrew's Hall in Norwich, Mr Lewis said the election was one of the most disruptive and divisive in recent history.
"My word to the Conservative government is there is a weight of responsibility on you. After 10 years of austerity the people of this country and this city are hurting," he said.
"They may well have the victory but the people of this country deserve a government that will act with honour and integrity and respect our democracy."
Mr Lewis said it would not be right to lay blame solely at the door of Labour's leadership for its defeats nationally.
"Those seats in the North and the Midlands, if they have collapsed - which is almost unprecedented post-war politics - will need an analysis and I don't think simply pointing at Jeremy Corbyn or at Brexit is enough. There is more to it than that," he said.
"There are people whose heads will now begin to dip and I think it is right that we reflect, but we also have to start thinking about the positives in this election.
"We have had a manifesto of hope, that has been transformative, which has told people that there is a different way of running our economy, of running our society."
On Brexit, Mr Lewis said the split in the party membership and voter base had made it a difficult issue for the party - but said it had been wrong to "vacillate" on its policy.
"What we needed to do was to say to people 'we think that the best way for us to achieve our outcomes in our manifesto is within the European Union and we think there should be a confirmatory vote now that people understand what Brexit actually is'. I think if we had done that two years ago we would have been in a far stronger position today," he said.
"There was no easy way out of this, but what was clearly not the right way forward was to hedge your bets on either side. You had to make a decision. I don't think that clarity was there over the last two years and we have paid a price for that."
Mr Lewis added that he "would not rule out" running in any forthcoming Labour party leadership election.