It could be 2035 before Labour is back in power, says anti-Corbyn former MP

James MorrisSenior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Yahoo News UK
Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn.

An ex-Labour MP has said it could be 2035 before the party is back in power following its election disaster under Jeremy Corbyn.

Mike Gapes, who was one of Corbyn’s sharpest critics before quitting Labour last year, said the party is facing an even longer spell out of government than it did between 1979 and 1997. It was last in power in 2010.

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Gapes, speaking to Yahoo News UK during a conference at the Royal United Services Institute in Westminster on Monday, claimed the next leader may have to commit up to 15 years in order to make Labour electable again.

The former Ilford South MP, who lost his seat as a Change UK candidate in December’s election, said: “Obviously I’m not in the Labour Party right now, but I’m a very close observer of what’s going on at the moment. I just hope it can turn it round, and it may take 10 or 15 years, sadly.

Mike Gapes pictured in April last year (Claire Doherty/In Pictures via Getty Images Images)
Mike Gapes pictured in April last year (Claire Doherty/In Pictures via Getty Images Images)

“I was there with Neil Kinnock after Michael Foot was defeated in 1983. It took him nine years to get us back to the verge of winning the election [in 1992] and it was another five years until John Smith and Tony Blair inherited the work Neil Kinnock had done.

“I think the next Labour leader could be facing a similar challenge, except this time it’s even worse. In those days the general secretary of the party, and national executive of the party, weren’t completely in the hands of the far-left.”

Gapes, who jokingly referred to himself as a “recovering politician”, went on: “Whoever becomes Labour leader, assuming they are committed to getting rid of the Corbyn legacy, will have a major task to make the Labour Party electable.

Gapes (back, right) was part of the ill-fated Change UK after quitting Labour (Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Gapes (back, right) was part of the ill-fated Change UK after quitting Labour (Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)

“Labour will need a dedicated, committed leader who is prepared to put in not five years, but 10 or maybe even longer to transform the party. Whether the membership of the party will elect such a leader, I’m not sure.”

Gapes was among a group of Labour MPs who dramatically quit the party in February last year in protest against Corbyn’s leadership.

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With a group of ex-Tory MPs, they founded Change UK, which flopped in the subsequent European elections and saw many of its members either become independents or join the Liberal Democrats.

Gapes was one of just three candidates who fought December’s general election under the Change UK banner - and was promptly ousted by Labour from the seat he had held since 1992.

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