Labour’s shadow health minister claims he was only joking when he told a friend his party will lose the general election.
Leicester South MP Jonathan Ashworth said his comments were “joshing and banter”.
The remarks were recorded by a Conservative “friend” – a former MP – who sent the tape to a right-wing blogger.
Mr Ashworth said Labour’s support in Midlands’ seats like Mansfield and Ashfield were “dire”.
He blamed the problem on a “combination of Corbyn and Brexit”.
The tape reveals Mr Ashworth telling his friend:
“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, defending his position, said later:
“I’m joshing around with somebody who I thought was an old friend who’s now leaked it to Guido Fawkes [a blog].
He’s a Tory and we’ve always had a bit of banter together.
“I’m winding him up, teasing him.
“We are going to win, we’re going to win this general election, because people are fed up with the Tory cuts to the general election, and they’re fed up with the waiting lists going higher and higher.”
James Cleverly, Conservative Party chairman, said:
“This is an honest and truly devastating assessment of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership by one of his most trusted election lieutenants.
“He admits that Labour has blocked Brexit and that is why voters ‘can’t stand Corbyn’.
“If even Corbyn’s closest political allies think he is unfit to be Prime Minister, why on earth should voters be expected to put their trust in him and them?
“Corbyn’s Labour have broken their promises to the British people on Brexit and they will not be able to deliver their fantasy manifesto.
“As Ashworth himself says, only a vote for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives will mean we can get Brexit done.”