Toby Perkins: ‘Labour now needs to come together’

Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield.
Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield.
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Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has said Labour needs to ‘come together’ – after Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as the party’s leader.

In a result announced on Saturday, Mr Corbyn comfortably defeated his challenger Owen Smith, winning 61.8 per cent of the vote – a larger margin of victory than last year.

In June, Mr Perkins said Mr Corbyn was ‘not destined’ to become Prime Minister and stood down as Shadow Armed Forces Minister.

Mr Perkins said today: “I congratulate Jeremy Corbyn on his victory in the leadership contest.

“It has been a very difficult summer for the Labour Party.

“There is now a real need for the party to come together and for all sides to aim to heal the wounds which now exist.

“I urge all members to stay with the Labour Party – it is the greatest force for good for ordinary people.

“I will do all in my power to ensure that the party becomes a credible and united force once again ready to provide an alternative Government.

“I will continue to put the needs of my constituents first.

“Of course, I will be supporting the leader of the Labour Party in our fight to back our overstretched NHS, to stand up for inclusive education opportunities for all children and to build an economy which works for everyone.

“He has also said that he wants the party to unite.

“The fact is that 42 per cent of members and 63 per cent of those who were members at the time of the 2015 general election voted for a change at the top.

“If the party leadership is going to represent those who voted for Jeremy as well as those who didn’t, there is a need to recognise the level of concern there is and aim to build a programme and run an operation which wins the support of all members and voters across the country.”

Mr Corbyn won 313,209 votes, compared with Mr Smith’s 193,229.

Speaking on Saturday, he vowed to bring Labour back together, saying ‘we have much more in common than divides us’.

He insisted the party could win the next election as the ‘engine of progress’ in the country.

More than half a million party members, trade unionists and registered supporters voted in the contest.

Despite winning the leadership in a vote of the wider membership and registered supporters in 2015, Mr Corbyn, who spent three decades as part of a marginalised leftwing group of Labour MPs in Parliament, has never had the support of more than about 20 per cent of Labour’s MPs.

This year’s contest came about after more than 170 MPs supported a motion of no confidence in their leader. That came after dozens quit his shadow cabinet and other frontbench roles.