Jeremy Corbyn says he is under 'no pressure whatsoever' hours after Angela Eagle announces leadership bid

'Real pressure is when you don't have enough money to feed your kids, when you don't have a roof over your head'

Will Worley
Saturday 09 July 2016 19:03
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Jeremy Corbyn signs autographs for supporters following his speech during the 132nd Durham Miners Gala
Jeremy Corbyn signs autographs for supporters following his speech during the 132nd Durham Miners Gala

Embattled Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he is under “no pressure whatsoever”, just hours after former Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle launched a leadership challenge against him.

Mr Corbyn – who was recently subject to a vote of no confidence by his own MPs – was speaking at the Durham Miners’ Gala, an event he said was about “solidarity”. However, a number of Labour MPs were uninvited from the event by the organisers because of their opposition to the Labour leader.

During his address to the audience, Mr Corbyn said: “There’s a lot of debate about what’s happening in the Labour party at the present time. And I am inundated with questions, questions, questions all the time. And I have patience that is infinite to answer questions, questions and questions.

"But one I got today really did puzzle me. They said: 'How are you coping with the pressure that's on you?'

“I simply said this: "There is no pressure on me, none whatsoever.

"Real pressure - real pressure - is when you don't have enough money to feed your kids, when you don't have a roof over your head, when you are wondering if you are going to be cared for, when you are wondering how you can survive, you are wondering how you are going to cope with the debts you have incurred, you are wondering if your lovely employer is going to give you a call to give you a couple of hours work or not bother, or change their mind when you are on the bus on the way to do that job.”

Becoming impassioned, Mr Corbyn said low pay, rent, homelessness and zero hours contracts were the kind of “brutal pressure that is put on people every day of the week in this country”.

However, journalist Kevin Schofield later tweeted the reaction of one MP to the speech: “That’s not what he’s saying in private.”

Despite indirectly addressing his own position, Mr Corbyn failed to talk about the recent vote to leave the European Union, which is likely to have far reaching implications for workers’ rights.

He also avoided the topic of Trident. A vote on Britain’s nuclear capability was recently announced by David Cameron and Mr Corbyn has been a lifelong opponent to the weapons. But the industry surrounding Trident also employs many union members, who Mr Corbyn counts among his core support.

The Gala was also marred by evidence of some Labour division. Some Labour MPs, who had been planning to attend had their invitations rescinded by the organisers, Durham Miners Association. Local parliamentarians such as Jenny Chapman, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Tom Blenkinsop, Anna Turley, Helen Goodman, Emma Lewell-Buck were excluded from the event due to their votes of no confidence in Mr Corbyn.

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