Jeremy Corbyn dismisses claims that he is ‘too frail’ to lead: ‘I am a very fit, very healthy, very active person’

Labour angrily denies suggestions leader is ‘losing his memory’, insisting he ‘leads an active and healthy life’

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Saturday 29 June 2019 11:41 BST
Jeremy Corbyn appears to shut his wife inside their porch

Labour has angrily denied claims that Jeremy Corbyn is too “frail” to be prime minister.

The party rejected suggestions, reported to have been made by senior civil servants, that the Labour leader was “too frail” and “losing his memory”.

According to The Times, Mr Corbyn’s health was discussed at a recent event attended by top Whitehall figures.

One senior civil servant reportedly told the paper: “There is a real worry that the Labour leader isn’t up to the job physically or mentally but is being propped up by those around him. There’s growing concern that he’s too frail and is losing his memory. He’s not in charge of his own party.”

Another reportedly said: “When does someone say [he] is too ill to carry on as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister? There must be senior people in the party who know that he is not functioning on all cylinders.”

But Labour hit back, with Mr Corbyn calling the claims “a farrago of nonsense” and “tittle-tattle from people who either don’t know me or don’t understand me”.

He told ITV News: “I am a very fit, very healthy, very active person. I love what I do, I love my community and I love being outdoors.

“The idea that civil servants should be briefing newspapers against an elected politician, against a prospective government, is something that should be very concerning.”

A party spokesperson said: “Jeremy Corbyn leads an active life, running and cycling regularly, and is in good health. Reports to the contrary are scurrilous and a transparent attempt to undermine Labour’s efforts to redistribute wealth and power from the few to the many.”

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said the claim Mr Corbyn was in ill health should be treated “with the contempt it deserves”

He told Sky News: “Jeremy Corbyn is the age of many other world leaders. He’s incredibly fit. He’ll give 20 or 30 years on most other people. He runs every day, he cycles.”

He added: “We need a wise, experienced leader who will bring the country together again.”

Mr Corbyn’s team have previously said the Labour leader is undergoing treatment at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London for a muscle weakness in his right eye.

The Times also quoted current and former Labour staffers accusing Mr Corbyn’s chief of staff, Karie Murphy, of bullying, including allegedly jabbing someone in the chest

A Labour spokesperson said: “These allegations are clearly based on politically motivated anonymous briefings rather than fact. No complaint of this nature has been made through union or party processes, and if they were, they would be fully investigated.”

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