The comments were made by Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, in a recording obtained by Guido. The Labour frontbencher is heard condemning Labour’s chances on Thursday’s general election, saying “it’s abysmal out there”. The MP for Leicester South, who has confirmed he made the remarks, also suggested Jeremy Corbyn could “quickly” be replaced as leader of the Labour Party.
In the recording, Mr Ashworth said a Labour victory on Thursday “is not going to happen”.
He said: “I just can’t see it happening. It wouldn’t surprise me – for sake of argument – we held Canterbury because of sort of middle-class, Guardian-reading people, but then the Tories take Bolsover off of Labour it wouldn’t surprise me.
“The electoral map has being going topsy-turvey because of Brexit and Corbyn.”
Mr Ashworth added the situation in traditional working class areas is “dire”, naming Mansfield and Ashfield as vulnerable seats.
The Labour MP also said outside of the city, voters “cannot stand Corbyn” and think the Labour leader has “blocked Brexit”.
He said: “I’ve been going round these national places, it’s dire for Labour… it’s dire… it’s awful for them, and it’s the combination of Corbyn and Brexit….outside of the city seats… it’s abysmal out there… they can’t stand Corbyn and they think Labour’s blocked Brexit. I think middle-class graduates – remainy people – Labour’s doing well among… but not in big enough numbers to deny the Tories a majority.”
Mr Ashworth also suggested Mr Corbyn would be a risk to national security, if he becomes Prime Minister.
In the recording, someone asked: “If he got in would he be as bad as I suspect?”
The MP responded: “I don’t know, on the security stuff; I worked in No.10, I think the machine will pretty quickly move to safeguard security (I mean the civil service machine).
“But it’s not going to happen! I can’t see it happening!”
Later on in the recording Mr Ashworth was asked if the Tories win a majority Government, “how long would it take Labour to get its act back together and get rid of Corbyn?”
He responded: “That’s the thing that’s on our minds… I think things can change quickly; I think things change more quickly anyway now.”
Mr Ashworth has confirmed the recording of the private conversation is real, but told the BBC “I don’t mean it”.
He said: “I’m winding him up, I’m joshing with him, it’s banter”
In the MP’s explanation he said the person he met with was a friend and a Tory activist, and he made the comments to ensure his political opponent “did not become complacent”.
The BBC’s assistant political editor reports Mr Ashworth said: “It makes me a look a right plonker.”