Election 2019

Former Blair aide blames 'toxic' Corbyn for Sedgefield defeat

John Burton
Image caption John Burton said voters did not rust Jeremy Corbyn

A former aide of Tony Blair has said Labour lost his old seat of Sedgefield because of the "toxic" reaction to Jeremy Corbyn on the doorstep.

Conservative Paul Howell took the County Durham seat from Labour's Phil Wilson by more than 4,500 votes.

John Burton, who was the former Labour prime minister's agent, said every household he spoke to "didn't want Jeremy Corbyn".

He urged Labour MPs to break away and create a new centre ground party.

Sedgefield results

Vote share

Party % share
Conservative 47.2%
Labour 36.3%
The Brexit Party 8.5%
Liberal Democrat 4.7%
Green 2.4%
Independent 0.9%

Vote share change since 2017

  • The Brexit Party +8.5 Gained
  • Conservative +8.4 Gained
  • Liberal Democrat +2.8 Gained
  • Independent +0.9 Gained
  • Green +0.7 Gained
  • Labour -17.1 Lost

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Mr Burton, who lives in Trimdon, where Tony Blair had his constituency home, said: "It was a mixture of Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn.

"It was toxic. Every household you went to they didn't want Jeremy Corbyn.

"It was a number of things about him. It was his connections with the IRA and Hamas. It was the far-left and the fact he wasn't trusted on security.

"People just couldn't cope with that.

"On the doorstep we were talking about local issues and about how important they are. But all the time they said a vote for Phil would be a vote for Jeremy."

Image copyright Michael Birt
Image caption John Burton, left, with Tony Blair in 1994

Mr Burton confessed although he voted Labour, he did not want to see a Jeremy Corbyn government.

"When you're going around electioneering and hoping your party doesn't win it's a bit difficult.

"I was hoping Labour wouldn't win an overall majority, absolutely," he said.

He urged surviving Labour MPs to "stand up and be counted" and break away from Labour to create a new centre-ground party.

Mr Burton added: "We need a new party. Call it Progress, call it what you will, but that has to happen quickly."

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