Launching a leadership election campaign in less than a year, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday offered a “hand of friendship” to his party MPs, most of whom have expressed no confidence in his authority following the June 23 Brexit vote.
Corbyn is contesting the election against Owen Smith and the result is scheduled to be announced in Liverpool during the party’s annual conference on September 24. More than 180,000 people have joined the party since Tuesday, and most of them are expected to back Corbyn, who was elected in September 2015.
Urging MPs to “get behind the party”, Corbyn promised to tackle inequality, neglect and prejudice if elected prime minister in the 2020 elections. He is widely believed to enjoy the support of most of the party members, who have the vote in the internal election.
Declaring that he had the ability to conveniently forget unpleasant things said about him by MPs, Corbyn said: “Because, come September, when this election is done and dusted, there will still be a Tory government in office, there will still be grotesque levels of inequality in our society, there will still be whole parts of this country that are left behind.
“It is the duty and the responsibility of every Labour MP to get behind the party at that point and put it against the Tories for the different, fairer, kinder Britain that we can build together. And I appeal to them to work together.”
Britons voted on June 23 to exit the European Union, triggering a political crisis that cost Prime Minister David Cameron his job. Within the Labour Party, Corbyn faced criticism for not campaigning more vigorously for Britain to remain in the EU.