Former Labour shadow chancellor says party missed "open goal" in failing to defeat Tories despite big gains

Jasper Jolly
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Chris Leslie preceded John McDonnell as shadow chancellor (Source: Getty)

Labour’s result in the General Election should not be greeted as a “famous victory” despite its massive surge in support, according to a former Labour shadow chancellor and staunch critic of leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Chris Leslie, a former junior minister in Tony Blair’s government, said he will not be a “cheerleader” for the result, which he described as missing an “open goal”, in an interview with the BBC.

Labour won 262 seats, a gain of 30, which was not enough to unseat the Tories, despite some astonishing victories, including in Canterbury and Kensington.

Read more: It's confirmed: Kensington falls to Labour in shock loss for the Tories

Labour had been predicted by pollsters to face a drubbing by the Conservative party, with the polling average by Britain Elects showing Labour winning only 36.1 per cent of the vote the day before the election.

Their final vote share was 40 per cent, giving Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a bigger vote share than Tony Blair’s majority-winning mandate in 2005.

However, the concentration of votes in Labour’s urban strongholds meant the Conservatives held onto power as a minority government via a deal with the Democratic Unionist party (DUP).

Leslie, who was returned as MP for Nottingham East, said the Labour party had to “recognise we did well”, but added the result was nevertheless a failure.

Read more: Theresa May looks to form a new Cabinet and negotiate a DUP deal

He said: “We haven’t won that election. We shouldn't pretend that this is a famous victory. It is good as far as it’s gone, but it’s not going to be good enough.”

He added: “I’ve never known a more beatable Prime Minister than Theresa May.”

Leslie has been a prominent critic of Corbyn since he won the Labour leadership in 2015. Leslie, from the Blairite wing of the party, was preceded John McDonnell as shadow chancellor, but has repeatedly criticised the economic policy of Corbyn's top team.

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