LONDON (JTA) – Jeremy Corbyn said he will no longer lead Britain’s Labour Party following a resounding defeat in national elections.
Corbyn’s announcement that he “will not lead the party in any future general election campaign” followed Labour’s trouncing on Thursday by the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
With nearly all the votes counted on Friday, Labour held fewer than 205 of 650 seats in parliament — a loss of more than 50 seats from the 2017 general election and the party’s worst showing since 1935.
“I will discuss with our party to ensure there is a process now of reflection on this result and on the policies that the party will take going forward,” Corbyn said.
John McDonnell, Labour’s second in command, ascribed the loss chiefly to Labour’s neutrality on Britain’s exit from the European Union, which Johnson had promised to get done. But Ken Livingstone, a former mayor of London who was forced to leave the party earlier this year over allegations of antisemitism, said the “Jewish vote” was a factor.
“The Jewish vote wasn’t very helpful,” the Daily Mirror on Friday quoted Livingstone as saying. “Jeremy should have tackled that issue far earlier than he did.”
Britain’s Jewish community of about 250,000 people accounts for less than 0.4 percent of the electorate.
Leaders of British Jewry had accused Corbyn of espousing antisemitic views and emboldening others within Labour to express them. Thousands of cases of antisemitism have been reported to the party’s ethics panel.
In a victory speech in London, Conservative cabinet minister Michael Gove addressed Jewish voters directly.
“You have had to live in fear for months now with concerns we will have a prime minister who trafficked in anti-Jewish rhetoric and embraced anti-Jewish terrorists,” Gove said. “You should never have to live in fear again.”
Sajid Javid, another Conservative leader, wrote on Twitter: “A bad day for antisemites.”
Many British Jews, including some who are critics of the Conservatives, breathed a sigh of relief with Labour’s defeat.
“It feels like Purim and Haman is beaten,” wrote David Collier, a researcher who has exposed multiple antisemitic incidents within Labour on his blog, referring to the holiday celebrating the ancient deliverance of Persian Jews from a government official who had plotted to annihilate them.
“I just want to put on fancy clothes dress and shake a ratchet every time they mention Jeremy Corbyn on television,” Collier wrote on Twitter.
Thursday was also a bad day for one of the Jewish community’s icons in the fight against antisemitism within Labour. Luciana Berger, a Jewish lawmaker who left Labour over the antisemitism issue earlier this year and ran as a centrist Liberal Democrats party in an area of London where Jews make up one-fifth of the electorate.
With Labour hemorrhaging votes badly in her constituency, Berger won about 17,600 votes on Thursday, but lost to Mike Freer, the Conservative candidate, who received more than 24,000, the Evening Standard reported.