Corbyn offers MPs olive branch and calls for a united front against real enemy
JEREMY CORBYN urged Labour MPs to pull together to help him fight the Tories yesterday as he launched his re-election campaign in confident mood.
The Labour leader offered a “hand of friendship” to the MPs who have plunged the party into a summer of infighting just 10 months after he won a landslide 59.5 per cent of the vote.
Whatever the outcome of the contest, Britain will still be blighted by a Tory government overseeing “grotesque” levels of inequality, Mr Corbyn told people at his London launch event.
And he said: “It’s the job, it’s the duty, it’s the responsibility of every Labour MP to get behind the party at that point and put it there against the Tories about the different, fairer kind of Britain that we can build together.
“I appeal to them to work together to put that case forward, because we owe it to the people that founded this party, that support this party, the half-million who give their money and their time to help this party survive and strengthen and grow. I hope they will recognise that and come on board.”
Mr Corbyn also signalled his willingness to move on from the spat, saying he had an “ability to very conveniently forget some of the unpleasant things that have been said” to and about him over the past few weeks.
He risked enraging rebels as he warned MPs may face reselection ahead of the next election due to an upcoming boundary review.
“If this Parliament runs to the full term, then the new boundaries will be the basis on which the elections take place and in that case there would be a full selection process in every constituency,” he said.
A spokesman for the Labour leader clarified later that “sitting MPs whose constituencies are not affected would be reselected through trigger ballots.”
Mr Corbyn told grassroots supporters and journalists assembled in a classroom at a London university he would concentrate his fire on the the government, rather than rival Owen Smith, during the campaign.
“Over the next couple of months, our campaign will set out how we plan to defeat the Tories and elect a Labour government that will act to tame the forces holding people back: of inequality, neglect, insecurity, prejudice and discrimination,” he said with a nod to the Beveridge report that led to the welfare state.
Unveiling his first policy proposal, he said the next Labour government would require every employer with more than 20 staff to publish “equality pay audits” in a bid to eliminate the gender pay gap and other pay discrimination by shaming bosses.
Asked if it was credible to talk about taking government, he pointed to the growth in membership under his leadership.
Labour now has more than 500,000 full members and the 183,541 people who became registered supporters over just two days this week is almost more than both the Tory and Lib Dem membership combined.
Mr Corbyn replied: “This party is going places. This party is strong. This party is capable of winning a general election and if I am leader of the party I will be that prime minister.”
The official hustings period opens today and the Labour leader is scheduled to take on Mr Smith at least three times.