It was Mr Corbyn’s second election defeat as leader and leaves his legacy in tatters, especially as the party was dogged by an ongoing antisemitism scandal under his watch. And Mr Corbyn enjoyed one final snipe before stepping down, warning his successor not to get into a government of national unity with Conservatives to help fight the coronavirus.
The hard-left socialist said that giving up the responsibility to oppose and challenge the government would be “a negation of what our democratic society is about”.
His remarks came as former Conservative leader William Hague said it would be “constitutionally correct” for prime minister Boris Johnson to brief the new Labour leader directly on the government’s strategy, suggesting that this would help relieve pressure on ministers from the opposition.
Asked whether Labour should be offering its support to the government to help the country get through the coronavirus crisis, Mr Corbyn said: ”It’s the duty of opposition parties to hold it up into account and that is exactly what we’re doing.
Mr Corbyn has said that Labour would have moved faster to ramp up Covid-19 testing if he had been in power.
“I think we should be challenging the government and challenging them on the economic response, challenging them on job security, and that is the way to get better government and better decisions,” he said.
“If everybody got together and said ‘we’re all absolutely in this together; we won’t criticise each other’ – that is a negation of what our democratic society is about.”
As Mr Corbyn prepared to step down, his wife Laura Alvarez broke her long-standing silence to voice her pride in her husband and declare she would “never regret our dream of a better quality of life for everybody”.
Writing in the Daily Mirror, Mrs Alvarez took aim at Mr Corbyn’s opponents inside the Labour Party and urged his supporters to keep up their fight for the values he represents.
“It has been hard for me to watch my husband vilified and hear his words twisted by his political opponents,” she said. “It has been harder to watch him attacked by his party.
“I want to thank those who voted for Labour, and especially those who stood with my husband.
“We know you shared our values. If equality, humanity, honesty and kindness are called Corbynism, then that’s all right with me.”
Today’s announcement will be made in a statement, rather than at a live event because of coronavirus.
The three hopefuls, Sir Keir, Rebecca Long Bailey and Lisa Nandy, have recorded a victory speech ahead of time before knowing the result.
It brings an end to the marathon contest which was triggered by Labour’s humiliating defeat in December’s general election.
Labour’s more than 580,000 members, affiliate members through trade unions or socialist societies and people who paid 25 pounds to be registered supporters have all been eligible to vote in the election which began in February.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has been seen as the favourite to take the post of deputy leader.
Mrs Rayner is in a race against Dawn Butler, Ian Murray, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and Richard Burgon.
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