• McCluskey said Labour’s task is ‘immense’ and a victory would be ‘extraordinary’
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s critics could see comments as sign he has given up hope of win
  • Parliament dissolved in April, Labour held 229 seats compared to the Tories’ 330

Alex Matthews For Mailonline

and
James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline

Jeremy Corbyn’s union paymaster is trying to defuse a major row after he admitted that Labour has no chance of winning the general election.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, appeared to pave the way for Mr Corbyn to cling on even if the party is thrashed on June 8, saying 200 seats would be a good result.

The comments, made hours after the launch of the party’s manifesto, enraged Labour moderates.

Unison chief Dave Prentis said on Twitter: ‘Success = a Labour government.’ 

Mr McCluskey desperately tried to backpedal on comments today, telling reporters he had been ‘taken slightly out of context’ and there was ‘all to play for’.

Labour frontbencher Barry Gardiner bizarrely tried to claim that Mr McCluskey had been playing a trick. He told LBC the union chief was trying to ‘lull the Conservatives into a false sense of security and make them complacent’.  

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said the Labour faced an 'immense' task in the election and that 200 seats would be a good result for the party

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said the Labour faced an 'immense' task in the election and that 200 seats would be a good result for the party

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said the Labour faced an ‘immense’ task in the election and that 200 seats would be a good result for the party

Unison chief Dave Prentis directly contradicted Mr McCluskey on Twitter, saying success would be Labour victory

Unison chief Dave Prentis directly contradicted Mr McCluskey on Twitter, saying success would be Labour victory

Unison chief Dave Prentis directly contradicted Mr McCluskey on Twitter, saying success would be Labour victory

Mr McCluskey told Politico: ‘The scale of the task is immense. People like me are always optimistic, things can happen. But I don’t see Labour winning. I think it would be extraordinary.’

He added: ‘I believe that if Labour can hold on to 200 seats or so it will be a successful campaign. 

‘It will mean that Theresa May will have had an election, will have increased her majority but not dramatically.’

When Parliament dissolved in late April, Labour held 229 seats compared to the Tory’s 330.

Mr McCluskey’s target of 200 is 30 fewer than Ed Miliband secured in 2015.

The Unite chief said today: ‘The reality, of course, is that Labour has launched their manifesto, a fantastic manifesto, a manifesto for workers, for ordinary working people and a manifesto which will change Britain for the better.”We are getting constant feedback from our members and there’s been an incredible response, a very positive response.

‘I think therefore it’s going to be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks. I feel full of confidence now that the opinion polls can start to change.’ 

The row came after Labour revealed its most most left-wing manifesto in decades, vowing to hammer the ‘rich’ and empower unions.

Labour has revealed its most most left-wing manifesto in decades, vowing to hammer the 'rich' and empower unions

Labour has revealed its most most left-wing manifesto in decades, vowing to hammer the 'rich' and empower unions

Labour has revealed its most most left-wing manifesto in decades, vowing to hammer the ‘rich’ and empower unions

Deploying the language of class warfare, Mr Corbyn promised to soak nearly £50billion from the better off and business, while re-nationalising key industries such as rail, mail, water and energy.

A 50p top rate of tax will be imposed on those earning more than £123,000, and anyone on over £80,000 faces paying 45p in the pound.

The money is meant to fuel a massive spending splurge on the NHS, schools and scrapping student tuition fees. Overall, government budgets would increase by an eye-watering 10 per cent.

But experts immediately warned that the Labour plan – which would take the tax burden to its highest level for 70 years – is extremely unlikely to raise the sums hoped as companies and entrepreneurs will be driven abroad.

Mr Corbyn was greeted with rousing cheers by activists as he arrived for the speech in Bradford

Mr Corbyn was greeted with rousing cheers by activists as he arrived for the speech in Bradford

Mr Corbyn was greeted with rousing cheers by activists as he arrived for the speech in Bradford

A seemingly off-the-cuff promise from Mr Corbyn to end the government’s freeze on benefits rises also descended into chaos, as the £4billion-a-year promise didn’t feature in the manifesto and he was forced to ditch it within hours.

Meanwhile, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has admitted Labour does not know how much it would cost to bring the water industry – which is worth tens of billions of pounds – back into public ownership. 

Mr Corbyn told activists at the launch at Bradford University: ‘For the last seven years our people have lived through a Britain run for the rich, the elite and the vested interest.

‘They have benefited from tax cuts and bumper salaries while millions have struggled.

‘Whatever your age or situation, people are under pressure, struggling to make ends meet, our manifesto is for you.’ 

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