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December 13, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:43am

Labour blames press for ‘echoing’ Tory message on Brexit after huge election defeat

By Charlotte Tobitt

Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at “media intrusion” on his family and other politicians as his Labour party was roundly defeated by Boris Johnson’s Conservatives at the ballot box.

Corbyn also blamed the media for “echoing” the Conservative narrative on Brexit. A number of newspapers campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union in 2016 and supported Johnson at this election.

With just one seat left to declare, Corbyn’s party has won 204 seats in Parliament to the Tories’ 364 – the worst result for Labour since 1935.

After winning his Islington North seat, which he has held since 1983, Corbyn thanked those who helped him to victory before immediately criticising the media.

“The pressure on those surrounding politicians is often very, very high indeed,” he said. “The media intrusion on people’s lives is very high indeed.

“And the attacks that take place against family and loved ones of politicians continue and they are disgraceful and frankly they are disgusting…

“I want to thank my three sons for the huge support they give me and thank my wife Laura Alvarez for all that she puts up [with] because of the way the media behave towards me, towards her and indeed towards my party during this election campaign.”

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The Daily Mirror was the only UK national newspaper to back Corbyn’s Labour. The left-leaning Guardian and Observer newspapers both encouraged tactical voting to challenge Tory seats.

The Mirror’s front page today declared the result to be a “nightmare before xmas”, having prepared an alternative in the case of a surprise Labour victory which it would have dubbed a “Christmas miracle”.

Corbyn said it had been a “very disappointing” night for Labour despite its “extremely popular” policies, but blamed Brexit which he said had “overridden so much of a normal political debate”.

A leaked copy of Labour’s briefing to MPs preparing to face TV cameras after the results started coming in last night also appeared to point the finger at the media for pushing the Tory message on Brexit.

Johnson’s campaign slogan has been to “get Brexit done”, which he has repeated throughout his campaign appearances.

The leaked Labour note said: “This defeat is overwhelmingly down to one issue – the divisions in the country over Brexit, and the Tory campaign, echoed by most of the media, to persuade people that only Boris Johnson can ‘get Brexit done’.

“This will soon be exposed as a falsehood- because Johnson’s version of Brexit will lead to years of uncertainty over trade with both the EU and US – but it has obviously been very difficult to reach across the divide created by the Tory failure over Brexit, as Labour honourably tried to do.

“We know that our manifesto policies to end austerity, protect the NHS, invest in communities and tackle inequality were highly popular. And it is encouraging that so many voters saw through the smear and fear campaign.”

Speaking to Radio 4’s World At One today, Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon appeared to follow his party’s broadcasting briefing by blaming the result on a combination of Brexit and the media’s portrayal of Corbyn.

Burgon said Corbyn was a ” decent man” who had been “misportrayed by the Sun and the Daily Mail”.

Asked what he heard from voters on the doorstep, he said: “I heard Brexit being raised a lot and of course Jeremy as portrayed through newspapers like the Sun and the Daily Mail was raised on the doorstep fairly frequently.

“But I do remember as well when I was campaigning for Ed Miliband who I admired greatly to become Prime Minister, he was getting a hard time on the doorstep as well, and of course people will tell us who are older than me how Neil Kinnock was savaged by the press and was getting that kind of reaction on the doorstep too.”

Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

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