Honesty will bring Black Country voters back to Labour, says leadership hopeful Jess Phillips - with VIDEO and PICTURES
Labour leadership hopeful Jess Phillips has said honesty will help bring back Black Country voters after the party's "disastrous" election result.
Seats across the region turned Conservative among a blue tidal wave across the country which saw Boris Johnson receive a majority of 80.
In Wolverhampton, two of the city's three seats turned blue – with Pat McFadden MP the sole Labour representative – as the party slumped to its worst defeat since 1935.
Mrs Phillips, who is aiming to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as leader, took to Bilston Market as part of her ongoing campaign.
The Birmingham Yardley MP, who was met with a warm reception from shoppers and traders, said Labour needed to "turn a page on the past" and focus on listening to people.
WATCH: Jess Phillips at Bilston Market:
She said: "The Labour Party lets people down when it can't win an election to deliver what it needs to – it's true of any party and leader.
"When I talk to people about social care needs, one person said there was five people he is responsible for and caring for – he said there was nowhere for him to go.
"And for me, I feel like we're letting people down.
"We need to be honest about what we can and can't do – you don't rebuilt people's trust by doing anything but being honest with people.
"It's about listening to them – it's about having a two-way conversation, even if you disagree, and that's how you can rebuild people's trust.
"We've not just got to turn a page on the past – not just on Jeremy Corbyn or the last election defeats – we've got to turn a huge one and make every conversation we have about where we stand and what for.
"People are up-front in their criticism of the Labour Party's position on Brexit, its policies, the leader, and they are happy to talk to you about that – they don't mind.
"It's much more different than the way we're told the country is – we're told we're all having a brawl with each other, but come to Bilston Market and we're more than capable of having a chat."
The leadership candidate, who is from a Leave-voting constituency in Birmingham, said Brexit was now "inevitable" – and the task was now to ensure that Boris Johnson could deliver.
Mrs Phillips said: "I stand in a place similar to Wolverhampton and my policy is that Boris Johnson has a majority of 80 – we're going to be leaving the EU.
"It's inevitable and now we've got to get on with it and ensure everything he promised is delivered – including the £350 million a week. If not then the people who voted – the people in Bilston – would have been lied to.
"These amazing trading relationships, the people in Bilston want to hear that – the people in Birmingham's motor industry want to hear that so they can continue and people all across the Black Country, people who work in the automotive sector want that.
"My policy is I'm not in charge and what we have to be in charge of is making sure Boris Johnson delivers and that no-one in any area of the country suffers."
And she stressed each member of the Labour Party had the "same basic values" – despite MPs criticising current left-wing "Corbynite" supporters.
She said: "I go to Constituency Labour Party (CLP) meetings and they are not wildly divided.
"Most Labour members have the same basic values about the things they want to see is fairness for everyone.
"It's making sure everyone is looked after and not just the richest.
"And no-one asks about where I stand on the doorstep – whether I'm a Corbynite or not. Let's just talk and listen.
"It's amazing what the desire to win an election can do to bring people together. "
The West Midlands-based MP, who tried her first ever bread pakora during her visit to Bilston, said Labour needed to rebuild people's "expectation" that a Government can help people.
She said: "It's about reminding them that a Government is there for them and their families. So degraded are our police, schools, our health service and in people's minds it's just accepted."
Mrs Phillips said she was raised as an Aston Villa supporter but married at Birmingham City fan – whose cousin is Kevin Phillips, who played for the Blues, the Villans, and West Bromwich Albion.
"I don't really like football and I'm not going to pretend I do – I'm not David Cameron," she said, referencing the former Prime Minister's gaffe over supporting West Ham United – despite his team being Aston Villa.
Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East, said: "After such a big election defeat we've had, the Labour Party needs to change in a big way and I think we've got some great candidates standing.
"But for me Jess really understands and believes in that big change more than any candidate and that's why I'm backing her.
"I think she's a winner and we have to break the cycle of our defeats.
"She's a politician who can speak to people direct and we've seen it in Bilston where's she's been walking around the market. She's someone people want to speak to and they share her point of view.
"There's no formality and people feel really warmly about her and you can see why during this visit."