Labour leadership contender Owen Smith wants unity in the party — but has said he will not serve in his rival Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.
Soon after Corbyn’s victory on Saturday morning, Smith put out a statement calling on the Labour party to “stick together in for the long term.”
He added: “I have no time for talk of a split in the Labour movement — it’s Labour or nothing for me. And although today’s result shows that our movement remains divided, it now falls primarily to Jeremy Corbyn, as Labour leader, to heal those divisions and to unite our movement.”
Smith said he would take time to reflect on “what role I might play in future to help Labour.” He did not mention anything about working directly with Corbyn, but has previously said he will not serve in his shadow cabinet.
“I don’t think he can rebuild Labour’s reputation in the country so I won’t be serving in Jeremy’s cabinet,” the Pontypridd MP said earlier this week.
In his victory speech, Corbyn said wanted to “wipe the slate clean” and bring the party together. His closest ally, John McDonnell wants to launch a “tea offensive” to charm disenfranchised Labour MPs.
“We will be talking to as many people as possible, saying to people ‘let’s have a cup of tea’ and can we try not to communicate by Twitter, it’s not the most constructive way of communicating, so let’s have a cup of tea and sit down and that will go on intensively over the next couple of weeks,” he told The Daily Mirror.
Owen Smith’s statement in full:
“I want to congratulate Jeremy Corbyn on his clear win in this leadership contest. There is no doubt that the Labour Party has changed under his leadership, he has mobilised huge numbers of people over the last 12 months, many of whom are here at Conference in Liverpool, and he deserves the credit for that, and for winning this contest so decisively.
“I am humbled by the more than 193,000 members, supporters and trade union members who have put their faith in me and I want to say a big thank you to them. It has been a privilege to meet so many of you, who have given so much of your lives to Labour, and I promise to continue to work for what we all believe in. It has been a huge honour for me to stand for leader of our great party and I am also deeply grateful to my Parliamentary colleagues for nominating me.
“I entered this race because I didn’t think Jeremy was providing the leadership we needed, and because I felt we must renew our party to win back the voters’ trust and respect. However, I fully accept and respect the result and I will reflect carefully on it and on what role I might play in future to help Labour win again for the British people.
“I have no time for talk of a split in the Labour movement – it’s Labour or nothing for me. And although today’s result shows that our movement remains divided, it now falls primarily to Jeremy Corbyn, as Labour Leader, to heal those divisions and to unite our movement. We have to turn round our dire opinion poll ratings and take on this right wing, failing Tory Government. Jeremy has won this contest. He now has to win the country and he will have my support in trying to do so.
“Above all, despite present divisions, we have to stick together in for the long term. I call on those party members disappointed by the result and tempted to look elsewhere to stay with Labour and to stay involved. Let’s work together to renew this movement and take the fight to the Tories.
“I want to say thank you to my campaign team, and particular my wonderful campaign chairs, Kate Green, Heidi Alexander, and Lisa Nandy.
“I want to thank Iain McNicol, the Labour Party staff and ERS who have all worked tirelessly and professionally during this contest.
“And, most importantly, I want to thank my family who have made huge sacrifices for me during this campaign and in recent years. I’m going to be at Conference today and tomorrow before returning home to Wales to spend some precious time with them.
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