SHADOW Chancellor John McDonnell revealed that Southampton "is a target" for the Labour Party during a one-day conference in the city.

The 67-year-old politician gave a talk at Southampton Transformed – a festival which had been organised to discuss what residents believe is best for the community.

Mr McDonnell told the Echo he was "very impressed" by the "huge turnout" at The 1865 in Brunswick Square, and that he found the topics raised "fascinating".

He said: "The people here understand the problems of the local community: the need for investment in the area, decent jobs and higher wages, but also they know we need to invest in public services, which meets what Labour cover.

"The next General election, whenever that may be, we want to be prepared. Areas like this are targets for us."

He added: "People here aren't just campaigning for us in the build up to the elections, it's permenant."

When asked about the current situation involving Tory leadership following Theresa May's resignation, Mr McDonell said:" It's a mess. All potential leaders seem to be threatening a No Deal Brexit.

"A No Deal would be a disaster for the Southampton area in particular. I even think people would reject the tax cuts because that means a further cut on the services.

"To me, it looks as though the Tory's are stepping back into the 1980s. It's extraordinary.

"I'm worried that whoever the leader is will take us backwards, not forwards."

Labour is currently in power of Southampton City Council, and gained three new seats in the May local elections.

Southampton Transformed had been organised by a number of residents, and saw more than 150 people turn up on June 8.

Other guest speakers included Grace Blakely, Owen Hatherley, Lily Madigan, Tom Gann, Joe Kennedy, Rhian E Jones and Callum Cant.

Co-organiser, Gwyn Rees, 28, said: "Well, I'm almost glad more people didn't turn up because we wouldn't have had enough seats!

"It's been an amazing feeling to see so many come through the doors and have that appetite to talk about our community.

"It's all about the community, having the opportunity to debate, and learn things from one another."