After Wednesday’s ‘meaningful vote’, Theresa May immediately stood up in Parliament and invited all leading parliamentarians to meet for Brexit discussions. Jeremy Corbyn’s response was that she needs first to take No Deal off the table. The following morning he wrote to the Prime Minister setting out the Labour Party’s position. He then got on a train with Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary and Richard Burgon, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice (amongst others) and headed off to Hastings where he spent the whole day with locals. Jeremy Corbyn likes to spend 3 days a week in Parliament and 2 days a week out there in the constituencies. He has been routinely campaigning since the 2017 snap election. On continual ‘election ready’ alert. Hastings came within 346 votes of taking Amber Rudd’s seat in 2017. The Parliamentary Candidate has already been chosen, Peter Chowney (bottom right of the photo). A visit to the winnable seat of Hastings is a must on the campaign trail.
The speech at St Marys In The Castle was wide ranging . But, naturally the media was most keen to report on the Brexit developments. They were out in force from many networks:- BBC, ITV, SKY, 5 News, the local papers, Euro news outlets, French news outlets, Bloomsberg. All sorts. They certainly didn’t all turn up for the previous St Marys in the Field speech. The Press questions at Q and A e.g. from Sky and 5 News et al were mostly focussed on Brexit. Was Corbyn being “inflexible” in not meeting unconditionally with the Prime Minister? His response as follows:- Mrs May has to “ditch the red lines and get serious” about proposals for the future to stop the country “hurtling towards a cliff edge”. Her offer to talk to other party leaders was referred to as a “stunt” but, nevertheless, he would be “quite happy to talk to her” if the “threat of a no-deal outcome” is ruled out. “It’s clear that her EU deal is now finished”.…..there can be no question of tweaks or sweeteners from Brussels to bring it back to life. The deal that she brought back – all 500 plus pages of it – is quite clearly a dead deal.” He accused TM of “blackmailing” MPs with a no-deal scenario so they would back her second attempt at passing a withdrawal agreement through parliament.
He made his position very clear, “Take no-deal off the table now, please Prime Minister” because with no-deal on the table the Prime Minister would only be entering into “phony talks just to run down the clock” until Brexit.
The government, he said, has been “consumed” by Brexit while ignoring vital issues like “cash-starved schools, the NHS at breaking point, rising bills and unaffordable houses” all of which have ”gone to the back of the queue”.
“The best outcome for this crisis – for the country as a whole – remains calling a general election to break the deadlock.” #GeneralElectionNow.
Other questions from the floor included one form an Eastbourne Labour Party member about tactical voting in our town and whether Proportional Representation might be a way forward for Labour. Jeremy Corbyn is not known to be an advocate of PR (though others in the party are). In his answer Jeremy emphasised the importance of hard campaigning to win the fight. But before he gave his answer he mentioned the bike ride he enjoyed last year when he cycled from Eastbourne to Rye.
We need to add to Jeremy’s associations with Eastbourne. Jeremy likes to mention Robert Tressell when he comes to Hastings. He loves reading. I was hoping to present him with a final limited edition copy about our real life Eastbourne “ragged trousered philanthropist” – George Meek (by local author and Labour Party member Clive Griggs). Alas, on this occasion, it was not possible to present Jeremy with this biography. I think he will enjoy reading it, once we eventually find a way to pass it on.
- Video recording of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Hastings 27.01.19.
- Photo album 1 of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Hastings 17.01.19.
3) Photo album 2 of NHS and Social Care consultation with Jeremy Corbyn. Hastings. 17.01.19.