Labour's John McDonnell has apologised for the party's catastrophic election result, saying "I own this disaster", as the battle to succeed Jeremy Corbyn heated up.
The shadow chancellor said "if anyone's to blame, it's me, full stop", but also cited Brexit and the media for having "demonised" the Labour leader ahead of the dismal defeat.
Mr Corbyn's key ally was speaking on Sunday as the post-mortem examination was in full swing, with potential candidates to replace the leader setting out their stalls.
Key figures in the current leadership were tipping shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, but backbenchers Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips were testing the waters for a challenge.
Mr McDonnell followed the outgoing leader in apologising for losing dozens of seats across the North and the Midlands to the Tories on Thursday, which saw Labour's worst result since 1935.
"It's on me, let's take it on the chin, I own this disaster so I apologise to all those wonderful Labour MPs who have lost their seats and who worked so hard," Mr McDonnell told The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC.
But he also said he does "blame the media" which he said "demonised" Mr Corbyn "for four years solid, every day".
He predicted the leadership change will take place in eight to 10 weeks, tipping Ms Long-Bailey as having the ability to be "a brilliant leader".
Mr McDonnell also praised shadow cabinet ministers Angela Rayner, Dawn Butler and Richard Burgon, who himself was backing Ms Long-Bailey and said he is "considering" running as her deputy.
The shadow chancellor said he "prefers others" to Ms Phillips, before describing her as "really talented".
He said the next leader should be a woman – which would make her the first to lead the party – and said it was "most probably time for a non-metropolitan" candidate as he said "we need a northern voice".