Jeremy Corbyn supporters hit back at mayor Sadiq Khan over his Owen Smith endorsement
SUPPORTERS of Jeremy Corbyn have hit back at London mayor Sadiq Khan after he urged Labour Party members to ditch their leader and back his rival Owen Smith instead.
In a scathing attack, Mr Khan said Mr Corbyn had failed to win the trust of voters and that Labour was "extremely unlikely" to secure a return to power as long as he remained leader.
But a spokesman for Mr Corbyn's campaign said Mr Khan won the mayoralty standing on a Labour platform under Mr Corbyn's leadership and with the backing of a large number of the new members who he had inspired to join the party.
A key trade union ally of the Labour leader described Mr Khan's intervention as "disappointing" and warned that the Labour members in the capital would feel "let down" by his actions.
A spokesman for the Jeremy for Labour campaign, said Mr Corbyn had even defended Mr Khan in the Commons at Prime Minister's Questions when David Cameron accused him of having links with extremists.
"Sadiq Khan is entitled to his opinion," the spokesman said.
"But he won the London mayoralty, as others have pointed out, by standing on a Labour platform under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn backed by the huge numbers who have joined our party to support Jeremy and now campaign for Labour."
Matt Wrack, the left wing general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and a strong supporter of Mr Corbyn, said Mr Khan's comments were "a little bit disappointing but possibly no great surprise".
"Sadiq comes from that part of the Labour Party that was in government under Blair and Brown," Mr Wrack told BBC News.
"It is disappointing nevertheless. Jeremy Corbyn gave full support for Sadiq in his campaign for mayor, as did a number of unions including my own.
"Sadiq hasn't consulted us or Labour Party members across London about this latest statement. I think a lot of people will be quite let down by that."
The London mayor's decision to back Mr Smith is being seen as a huge boost to the former shadow work and pensions secretary who is widely thought to be trailing in the leadership race.
Mr Khan's success in recapturing London for Labour last May was a rare bright spot for the party in an otherwise disappointing set of election results.
It followed a campaign in which he largely kept his distance from Mr Corbyn.
His intervention in the leadership race - having previously said he would not take sides - comes at a crucial moment.
Ballot papers are being sent out this week and many of the party's 500,000 members are expected to vote in the coming days.
Writing in The Observer, Mr Khan said Labour was "extremely unlikely" to win the next general election with Mr Corbyn as leader.
"Jeremy has already proved that he is unable to organise an effective team, and has failed to win the trust and respect of the British people," he said .
"Jeremy's personal ratings are the worst of any opposition leader on record - and the Labour party is suffering badly as a result. He has lost the confidence of more than 80% of Labour's MPs in Parliament - and I am afraid we simply cannot afford to go on like this."
Mr Khan also bitterly denounced Mr Corbyn's performance in the EU referendum campaign - when he was widely criticised for his lukewarm support for the Remain camp - saying he must bear some of the responsibility for the Leave vote.
"You can't just blame a 'hostile media' and let Jeremy and his team off the hook. I know from my own election - up against a nasty and divisive Tory campaign - that, if we are strong and clear enough in our convictions, the message will get through to the public," he said.
"That's a test that Jeremy totally failed in the EU referendum. Why would things be different in a general election?"