Wales politics

General election 2017: Get behind Corbyn, say ex-critics

Wayne David and Stephen Kinnock
Image caption Wayne David and Stephen Kinnock have praised Jeremy Corbyn's election performance

Two of Jeremy Corbyn's most prominent Welsh Labour critics have urged the party's MPs to get behind their leader following his election performance.

Labour won 56 fewer seats than the Tories but defied expectations and deprived Theresa May of her majority.

Caerphilly MP Wayne David said: "If there's another election I say bring it on and let's get behind Jeremy Corbyn".

Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock said he would be "honoured" to take a front bench job if it was offered to him.

Mr Kinnock resigned as an aide to the then shadow business minister Angela Eagle last year, accusing Mr Corbyn of having a "half-hearted and lacklustre role" in the EU referendum campaign.

But, speaking to BBC Radio Wales on Sunday, he said Labour had made a "huge step in the right direction" last Thursday.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWayne David said Jeremy Corbyn had commanded "enormous respect" from MPs and the electorate

He told the Sunday Supplement programme: "The electorate has told us very clearly that they want a Labour Party in Parliament holding this government to account - we got our marching orders.

"I'm chomping at the bit to do that, and if Jeremy thinks that I could do it from the front bench then, absolutely, I'd be honoured to do so."

Mr Kinnock said Labour needed to focus on "continuing to broaden our appeal".

"For me that means a shadow cabinet and a front bench of all the talents," he said.

"There's so much more that we can do, so much more that we need to say about the future of the country and we can only do that if we've got our best possible people rallying around our leader and speaking out for those who've elected to change the country.

"I think what we fundamentally saw in this election was we've taken on the mantle of change."

Image caption Jeremy Corbyn says he is "ready any time" for another general election

Mr David also joined a wave of Labour front bench resignations last June, saying Mr Corbyn was not "up to the job", but returned as a shadow defence minister in October.

Later on Sunday, Mr David told BBC Wales' Sunday Politics programme it was "quite remarkable" how Mr Corbyn had managed to enthuse people to get behind the party and said, as a result, he had commanded enormous respect from MPs and the electorate.

He said "our job will be to point out the incredible weaknesses that now exist in the government and if there's another election I say bring it on and let's get behind Jeremy Corbyn and let's win that election".

Asked if criticism of the Labour leader within the party would now stop, he said: "I think we saw a different Jeremy Corbyn, to be perfectly honest with you.

"It was quite remarkable how he managed to enthuse people and galvanise the support of the country, particularly the support of young people.

"And I think because of that he's commanded enormous respect from Labour MPs and the people of this country."

On Friday, Owen Smith, who failed in his attempt to oust Mr Corbyn in September, said: "I was wrong about Jeremy Corbyn".

'Happy to listen'

On Sunday, Mr Corbyn said he would invite MPs to back his policies instead of the ones set out by Mrs May, using an amendment to the Queen's Speech, focusing on austerity and a "jobs-first Brexit".

Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Hywel Williams was asked later on Sunday Politics Wales if his party would help Labour keep the Conservatives out of government.

He said: "We'd be very happy to listen to any progressive party.

"We are not interested in a coalition of any sort. I don't think that they are either."

Despite Labour making a net gain of 30 seats at the general election, the party remained the second largest in the House of Commons at 262, around 60 seats short of a majority.

More on this story