In a high-profile intervention in the ongoing election for the next Labour leader, London mayor Sadiq Khan on Sunday appealed to party members to vote in favour of Owen Smith, who is challenging the current leader and favourite, Jeremy Corbyn.
The result of the leadership election will be announced on September 24 at the party’s annual conference in Liverpool. The election was triggered in the aftermath of the June 23 Brexit vote, amid charges that Corbyn did not campaign strongly enough for Britain to remain in the European Union.
In a candid article for The Observer, Khan wrote: “By every available measure, if Jeremy remains as leader, Labour is extremely unlikely to win the next general election. The hopes of the members who have joined our party would be dashed again.”
“Jeremy has already proved that he is unable to organise an effective team, and has failed to win the trust and respect of the British people…Jeremy’s personal ratings are the worst of any opposition leader on record – and the Labour party is suffering badly as a result.”
“He has lost the confidence of more than 80% of Labour’s MPs in parliament – and I am afraid we simply cannot afford to go on like this,” wrote Khan, who had proposed Corbyn as the leader during the September 2015 leadership election.
Corbyn and Smith have appeared in television debates in recent days. Corbyn is widely expected to win the election due to the overwhelming support he enjoys among members of the party, even though most party MPs have passed a non-confidence motion against him.
Pitching for Smith, Khan wrote: "On the big issues Owen and I have been on the same side of the argument, including opposing the Iraq War. Owen led and - more importantly - won our fight against the Tories' unfair cuts to tax credits and disability allowances, which would have hurt the most disadvantaged people in our society.”
Smith responded to the article by saying he was “hugely honoured” to have Khan's support:
“Sadiq ran a fantastic campaign to win power for Labour in London this year, securing a huge mandate from party members and the electorate. Since that election we have already seen what a difference Labour can make when we hold power.”