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Corbyn will give up PM's Chequers retreat in protest against homelessness if he wins election

'It can't be right. We're a country with 150 billionaires, and we've still got people sleeping on the streets'

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 04 December 2019 14:43 GMT
Corbyn says it's not 'right' to live in Chequers with so many homeless in UK

Jeremy Corbyn says he will give up the luxury rural retreat of Chequers if he wins the general election, in a protest against rising homelessness.

“It can't be right. We're a country with 150 billionaires, and we've still got people sleeping on the streets,” the Labour leader said, when quizzed on whether he would use the grace-and-favour mansion.

But Mr Corbyn got into a tangle after saying he “usually” watches the Queen’s Christmas Day message – then mistakenly claiming it is shown in the morning.

During the interview on ITV, he also declined to set out the most romantic thing he has done, saying: “Wow, that's a hard one. Nobody ever thinks of me as romantic.”

And, asked for “the most romantic sort of wild and reckless thing you’ve ever done”, Mr Corbyn replied: “You can't ask that question on television.”

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has already said he would give up Dorneywood, the country pile offered to chancellors of the exchequer and open it to the public instead.

On ITV, Mr Corbyn was asked: “Would you consider giving up Chequers if you were prime minister?”, replying: “I would indeed.”

He was also asked: “Do you sit down to watch the Queen's Speech?”, telling the interviewer, Julie Etchingham: “It's on the morning, usually we have it on – some of the time.”

She replied: “It’s not on in the morning, it’s at three o’clock in the afternoon,” prompting Mr Corbyn to say: “It’s when its repeated, in the afternoon.”

When Ms Etchingham then asked: “So you don't sit down, as a family, to watch the queen speech, Mr Corbyn said: “We don't watch television very much on Christmas Day.

“Maybe a film in the evening. Erm, I like to do a bit of exercise on Christmas morning.”

Eventually, he said: “There is lots, lots to do. I enjoy the presence of my family and friends around Christmas. Obviously, like everybody else does.

Corbyn does not know when Queen's Speech broadcast

“And, I also visit the homeless shelter, either on Christmas Day, or the day before, to talk to, and listen to people's lives, about how they could be made better with a government that cared for them.”

Mr Corbyn was also asked it was embarrassing that he said he would confront Donald Trump at Buckingham Palace, but did not actually manage to speak to him.

“Not in the slightest,” he said. “Absolutely not in the slightest. I've made my view absolutely clear and I will continue to make that clear.

And, asked whether it was important to have a good relationship with the controversial president, he replied: “I think it's important to have good relationships with all countries. Of course, that includes President Trump, yes.”

Asked how he would form a good relationship with Mr Trump, the Labour leader said he would “work out issues that we agree on”

He would then “try and persuade him on both trade issues and particularly on climate change and the importance of the Paris Climate Change Accord”.

“I hope we can go further than Paris because we cannot go on allowing global warming to carry on at this rate. Otherwise we are all at risk.”

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