Newport West by-election: Jeremy Corbyn says cuts focus held seat

Jeremy Corbyn with Ruth Jones (centre) and Welsh Labour minister Jane Hutt Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jeremy Corbyn said Ruth Jones would be a “most brilliant representative” for Newport

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has credited the party’s victory in the Newport West by-election to campaigning against UK government austerity.

Union official Ruth Jones won the south Wales seat but Labour’s majority over the Conservatives fell to 1,951 from 5,658 at the 2017 general election.

Visiting the city, he said Labour’s job was to unite people, however they voted in the 2016 EU referendum.

The result saw a swing from Labour to the Conservative of 2.4%.

Mr Corbyn said he was not worried that the movement towards the Tories came despite the Brexit crisis engulfing Conservative ministers at Westminster.

“The only thing I’m concerned about is how soon the general election can come, and we’ll take that fight all over the UK to the Tories, and we will show there is an alternative to poverty Britain and austerity-ridden Britain, and it’ll by Labour who’ll deliver that alternative,” he said.

Asked if Labour’s stance on a softer Brexit had cost him votes, particularly among those who voted Leave, he said: “However they voted in the referendum they did not vote for deregulation of our society, they didn’t vote to lose their jobs, they didn’t vote to lose trading relationship with Europe.”

He said major industries in Wales and across the UK needed a strong trading relationship with Europe.

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Media captionRuth Jones wants to reconnect with the people who did not vote

Mr Corbyn told Labour activists the party had managed to “unite people, whether they voted Leave or Remain, against a government that is impoverishing so many people”.

He added: “That’s what Labour was founded to achieve, that’s what Welsh Labour showed yesterday, that’s what the support we received showed.

“People united together in the determination of the social, economic and political agenda that the Labour Party is putting forward.”

The seat fell vacant with the death of veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn in February, who had held the seat since 1987.

Eleven candidates stood, with the 37% turnout higher than some had predicted.

Congratulating Ms Jones, Mr Corbyn said she would be “the most brilliant representative for the people of Newport”.

“The people of Newport deserve that and Newport deserves a Labour Government to take away the misery of Universal Credit and the poverty and pain and desperation that br


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