Jeremy Corbyn last night issued a defiant New Year message as he prepared to quit as Labour leader.
But as candidates hoping to succeed Mr Corbyn jostled for position, he admitted that “2020 and the years ahead will be tough – no-one is saying otherwise”.
But he insisted: “We’re up for the fight, to protect what we hold dear and to build to win and to transform.
“The fight continues – there is no other choice.”
He said the “period ahead could not be more important” as he highlighted climate change and poverty as issues facing the world and the country.
“It will be crucial if we are to stop irreversible damage being caused by the climate crisis and the particular effects that has on people in the global south, if we are to stop the pain plaguing our country – food banks, poverty and people struggling to get by, if we are to protect our precious NHS,” he said.
“It won’t be easy. But we have built a movement, we are the resistance to Boris Johnson.
“We will be campaigning every day, we will be on the frontline, both in Parliament and on the streets – protecting our public services, protecting healthcare free at the point of use, protecting our communities, in all their brilliant diversity, and standing up for internationalism, global solidarity and co-operation, and working with movements and parties seeking social justice and change all over the world.”
Mr Corbyn’s message came hours after one of the candidates vying to succeed him, Remain-supporting Clive Lewis, said the party leader hampered Labour’s Brexit policy in the general election campaign.
Shadow Treasury Minister Mr Lewis, who has formally entered the race for the top job, attacked the outgoing chief over the party’s EU position.
He told the BBC: “One of the key USPs (unique selling points) of Jeremy Corbyn is that he was an authentic politician; I genuinely believe that he was.
“But on the biggest political crisis of British modern politics, he – we – were unable via Jeremy to be able to take a position.
“I think actually we should have stood our ground.”
The bookies’ favourite for the top role, Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, finally admitted she is considering a tilt yesterday.
She confirmed she could throw her hat into the ring with a pledge to champion “progressive patriotism”.
Party chairman Ian Lavery claimed he too could launch a bid for the premiership.
He was understood to be discussing a potential bid with his family.
But Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins tweeted: “Don’t be fooled by this.
“It’s purely an attempt to convince us all that RLB is not a far left choice.
“He won’t really stand, she will.”