Corbyn re-elected as British Labour party leader

Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected as the leader of Britain's Labour party after defeating his rival Owen Smith with 61.8 percent of the vote.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, reacts after the announcement of his victory in the party's leadership election, in Liverpool, Britain, September 24, 2016.

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as the leader of the United Kingdom’s deeply divided Labour Party on Saturday.

He won 313,209 votes, 61.8 percent of the total, while rival Owen Smith took 193,229.

British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, (R), and Labour leadership contender MP Owen Smith, arrive on stage ahead of the party's leadership announcement at the Labour Party Leadership Conference in Liverpool on September 24, 2016. (AFP)

Corbyn was first elected in September 2015, after putting an anti-austerity, anti-nuclear agenda at the forefront of British politics for the first time in a generation.

Welcoming the result, in which he won more votes than last, he pledged to bring the "Labour family" back together.

"Elections are passionate and often partisan affairs and some things are often said in the heat of the debate that we later come to regret," he told Labour members at the party's annual conference in the northwestern city of Liverpool.

"In our party, we have much more in common than that which divides us," he continued.

"As far as I'm concerned, let's wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work we've got to do as a party together."

His statements were likely intended to ease fears that his re-election will widen the division between the party’s left and centre-left wings.

After the Brexit vote held in June, some Labour members of parliament launched a vote of no confidence against him, arguing that he failed to campaign hard enough to keep Britain in the European Union.

Corbyn lost the vote, but refused to resign, saying to do so would be a "betrayal" of the members who elected him last year.

Jeremy Corbyn speaks during the unveiling of a new poster from the Labour In for Britain campaign, which advocated the UK remain in the EU, in London, June 7, 2016. (AP Archive)

He wants to move Labour further to the left. However, many of his colleagues suggest that this might lead to them losing their seats and allow Prime Minister Theresa May's governing Conservative Party free reign to pursue a "hard Brexit" that would take Britain not only out of the EU but also out of the European single market.

TRTWorld and agencies