Jeremy Corbyn promises to take a 'full part' in future memorial events after national anthem row

Labour leader was accused of showing a lack of respect after standing in silence as other dignitaries sang God Save the Queen at memorial event

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Jeremy Corbyn has promised to "take a full part" in future events that he attends in his official role as Leader of the Opposition after he was widely condemned for refusing to sing the national anthem at a memorial event yesterday.

The new Labour leader defended his silence as other dignitaries at the event marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain sang God Save the Queen.

He told Sky News: "I was at the Battle of Britain memorial yesterday; I was there out of respect for that amazing moment in British history. I was also thinking about my family - my mum and dad who were there at that time in London and worked as the air-raid wardens in the Blitz and I was thinking about that. It was a respectful ceremony and I stood in respect throughout it.

"I'm going to be at many events and I will take part fully in those events, I don't see a problem about this.

"The issue surely is that we had a memorial for the Battle for Britain, I was there, I showed respect for it and I'll show respect in the proper way at all future events - that'll be what I'll be doing."

Asked whether the "proper way" was taking part in singing the national anthem, Mr Corbyn replied: "Always to take a full part and I'll take a full part in."

The new Labour leader was widely condemned after pictures showed him standing silently as fellow dignitaries sang God Save the Queen at the memorial event marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Even members of his own front-bench criticised the move. But Mr Corbyn's team hit back on Twitter this morning. "We haven't got time for tittle tattle," the tweet read. "People are suffering in this country - and we have work to do. What's next?"

His shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith said he would have advised Mr Corbyn to sing the anthem "irrespective of his views", while shadow minister for women and equalities said singing it would have been the "respectful, right and appropriate" thing to do.

The Labour peer Admiral Lord west of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord, said: "I cannot believe that the people of our great nation could contemplate a prime minister who lacks that loyalty."

The right-wing media seized on his silence and compared it to his enthusiastic participating in singing "The Red Flag" after his election as leader on Saturday.

Comments