Sir Keir Starmer: Labour has a mountain to climb to win back Black Country voters
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has admitted his party has a "mountain to climb" in order to win back voters in the Black Country lost to the Conservatives at the last election.
Sir Keir said he was under no illusions about the size of the task he faced in winning back the trust of traditional party voters as he spoke to people from Wolverhampton.
But The Labour leader said he hoped by listening to people's concerns about the party and its previous leadership he would be able to win many round.
Sir Keir said it would take time to earn people's trust again in the Black Country after the historic 2019 election defeat which saw Labour lose previously safe seats to the Tories in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
Voters in an area which voted overwhelmingly for Brexit were wooed to the Conservatives by Boris Johnson's promise to "get Brexit done" amid confusion over where Labour stood, while there were also misgivings about ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn and his manifesto.
Sir Keir answered questions from people in Wolverhampton during a 'Call Keir' event over the conferencing call service Zoom.
He asked for views on why the party lost the last election and if people didn't vote Labour, why.
Sir Keir said: "I'm acutely aware I've got a mountain to climb and if I pretend that the last election wasn't very, very bad and devastating for the Labour Party we're not going to get anywhere. We're starting on a long and difficult journey."
One caller, whose parents turned away from Labour to vote Conservative, asked Sir Keir how he planned to win back the trust of Black Country voters.
He responded: "I don't think I can come on here and say 'Look, the Labour Party has lost four elections, they've got a new leader now so you can trust us'. People aren't going to buy that, I don't think, we've got to earn that trust in what we do over the next four years. But it starts with listening."
The leader also said he did not believe his time as Shadow Brexit Secretary under Mr Corbyn, when he played a key role in shaping Labour's Brexit strategy, had tarnished his reputation among voters.