Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not lead Labour into the next election, following a “very disappointing night” for his party.
He said he would stay on as leader during a “process of reflection” on the result, which a BBC forecast says will be its worst since 1935.
He added that the issue of Brexit had “polarised” politics and “overridden so much of normal political debate”.
But others within Labour blamed his leadership.
Labour have lost a string of former strongholds in the north of England and Wales in areas that voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum.
A BBC forecast has put Labour on 203 seats – a predicted loss of 59 from the last general election in 2017.
The Conservatives have already won an overall majority. The final result is expected to be known by Friday lunchtime.
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Speaking after retaining his North Islington seat, Mr Corbyn said the party’s manifesto policies had enjoyed “huge popular support”, and criticised the “way the media behaved” towards his party during the campaign.
But he added: “Brexit has so polarised and divided debate in this country, it has overridden so much of a normal political debate.”
“I recognise that has contributed to the results that the Labour Party has received this evening all across this country.”
Labour went into the campaign promising to renegotiate Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, and then put it to a referendum vote alongside the option of remaining in the EU.
That strategy was criticised by party chairman Ian Lavery, who said it had led voters in traditional Labour seats to believe it was “a Remain party”.
“They believe they should have been listened to – and they think that the Labour party have totally reneged on the result,” he added.
But he added the strategy was not “Jeremy Corbyn’s decision,” as it had been approved by delegates at the party’s September conference.
Jeremy Corbyn left Labour party headquarters early on Friday morning
BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said the Labour Party was not united on how long Mr Corbyn should stay on in post.
Some figures have urged him to stay on until the party’s conference next autumn, whilst others were worried about the effect this would have on council elections due in May, he added.
Former Labour justice secretary Lord Falconer called for the party to move quickly to replace Mr Corbyn as leader by March or April.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, a key ally of Mr Corbyn, told the PA news agency the party’s Brexit strategy was “principled” and had aimed to bring the country together, but it had failed.
Earlier, he said he did not think the Labour leader had been “the big issue” of the campaign.
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Gareth Snell, who lost his Leave-backing Stoke-on-Trent Central seat, called for both Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell to quit.
He accused senior figures in the shadow cabinet who are defending Remain-voting seats in London of “sacrificing” candidates in marginal constituencies in the Midlands and the north of England.
Another Labour MP to lose her seat, Caroline Flint in Don Valley, said: “So many of my voters could not and did not want to support Jeremy Corbyn to be prime minister.”
She added: “I’m afraid to say there are moderate MPs who have driven us into a dead-end regarding Brexit and they have put the pursuit of Remain at the expense of our working-class heartlands and I feel annoyed to say the least about that.”
Media captionLabour candidate Gareth Snell calls for Jeremy Corbyn to step down
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, speaking after retaining his Holborn and St Pancras seat, said: “As a whole movement, we need to reflect on this result and understand it together, but we also have a duty to rebuild, starting now.”
Yvette Cooper, who unsuccessfully challenged Mr Corbyn for her party’s leadership in 2015, said the results showed Labour “have to change as a party”.
She said Brexit had played a “significant part” in her party’s performance, but the election “was not just about Brexit”.
“It was about their perceptions of the party, their perceptions of the leadership,” she added.
Speaking after an earlier exit poll predicted heavy losses for Labour, former Labour home secretary Alan Johnson told ITV News that Mr Corbyn had been “incapable of leading” and “worse than useless at all the qualities you need to lead a political party.”
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Read more – fonecable: Jeremy Corbyn: ‘I will not lead Labour at next election’