Brexit or Corbyn to blame? Sheffield’s Labour candidates begin the finger pointing

As the clock hit 10 o’clock and the exit poll predicted a Conservative landslide, Sheffield’s labour candidates quickly began the blame game.

Caroline Flint, standing for re-election as Labour MP for Don Valley, immediately pointed the finger at Jeremy Corbyn and his Brexit policy.

Mrs Flint, who had held her seat for 22 years, had previously rebelled against her party to back the Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

She was one or 60 Labour MP’s to lose her seat on a catastrophic night for their party, as the Conservative party won their biggest majority since Thatcher’s government.

Shortly after the exit poll came in, Clive Betts, who was re-elected as Labour MP for Sheffield South East, reflected on the two complains he received from voters in his area.

“One was Brexit. My constituency voted leave and so did many other labour seats that will lose tonight. Many people think we’re ignoring them. Conversations about trying to protect jobs therefore fell on deaf ears.”

“The other thing was Jeremy himself. I don’t want to kick him while he’s down like many will but that’s what people were saying to us: We don’t see Jeremy as the Prime Minister we want and while we want you as our MP and we’ve always voted Labour, we just can’t do it this time.”

Paul Blomfield, who held his Sheffield Central seat, said Corbyn had become an increasingly hard sell on the doorstep.

“In parts of the region people have been unconvinced by the leadership of the party, they’ve been concerned by Brexit and we’ve failed to break through with the agenda we’ve set out,” he said.

Jeremy Corbyn reacted to the results by declaring that he would not lead the party in the next election but would stay for “a process of reflection”.

Mr Blomfield said this was the correct decision.

Marc Bayliss, an unsuccessful Conservative candidate for Sheffield South East, agreed that Brexit and Corbyn helped his party.

“I think Corbyn plays very badly. I would say he was one of the Conservative party’s greatest assets in this election. People were very worried about what a Corbyn government would mean and they’ve rejected that tonight,” he said.

BBC Look North Presenter Harry Gration also blamed Corbyn.

“It’s because Jeremy Corbyn got it very wrong. I’m a dad and I’ve got two boys about to go to university. I want free tuition but somebody has to pay for it. All these freebies that were being offered didn’t stack up and he got that wrong,” he said.