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Q&A: Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit, independence and Donald Trump

Image credit: David Anderson

Q&A: Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit, independence and Donald Trump

What kind of prime minister would you be?

I will be a listening prime minister. You can learn something from everyone. That’s the approach I take to life.

Our government will put the people before privilege, so when we go into government, everyone will go into government with us.

We will end austerity and put power and wealth in the hands of the many, not the few.

We’ll place international justice and solidarity at the heart of everything we do. The UK will be a world leader, but a leader on the right side of history, standing up for justice around the world, speaking up for the oppressed and working to confront the climate emergency.

What will your main campaigning message be in any snap election?

Nobody will say there is no choice at the coming election. Labour will put wealth and power in the hands of the many, Boris Johnson’s Conservatives will look after the privileged few. 

We are doing everything necessary to stop a disastrous no deal, which the Tories want to use to sell our rights and protections to Donald Trump. We will sort Brexit by giving people the final say – do we leave on a sensible deal or do we remain.

Labour will put people before privilege, end austerity and take on the vested interests holding people back.

We will rebuild Britain and invest in every community, region and nation, including £70 billion of investment in Scotland over two terms of a Labour government. This additional resource will provide the investment that Scotland’s people, communities, public services and industries desperately need.

We will make work fairer, more secure and better paid. As part of that agenda, we will pay working people, including young people, a real living wage of £10 an hour.

We will kickstart a green industrial revolution to tackle climate change and create hundreds of thousands of high skilled, high wage jobs.

Labour will rebuild our public services, run for people not profit, and give our NHS, schools and police the money they need, by taxing those at the top to properly fund world-class services for everyone.

How difficult, on a personal level, have you found accusations of anti-Semitism?

I have fought all my life against racism. I am determined to root it out of the Labour Party. I am crystal clear, hatred towards Jewish people has no place in our society whatsoever and certainly no place in our movement. If you hate Jews, you’re no ally of mine.

The rise of the far right on both sides of the Atlantic is dangerous and we must unite to defeat them.

Are you the most dangerous man in Britain, as the Daily Mail would have us believe?

If you’re a tax-dodger, rip-off boss, financial speculator or big polluter, maybe yes. But to everyone else, I think I’m alright.

Do you understand why support for Scottish independence is so enduring and how would you try to persuade against it?

Austerity has failed working people in Scotland and across the UK. People are not happy with the status quo. But the answer to austerity is not more austerity. The SNP’s own growth commission report makes clear the prolonged and intense austerity Scotland would face if it became independent with an SNP government.

In the formative years of a Labour government at Westminster, our focus will be on ending austerity, as well as sorting Brexit and tackling climate change.

We believe Scotland, like the rest of the country, needs the transformative policies of a Labour government which would invest £70 billion in Scotland’s people, communities and public services.

If Scottish Labour is opposed to holding a second independence referendum, why does the UK party keep coming out in support of granting one?

We firmly believe that Scottish independence will not help – but hinder – the prospect of radical change in Scotland. It will do the reverse, deny more opportunities to those people who are already suffering as a result of austerity policies.

In the formative years of a Labour government, we wouldn’t agree to another independence referendum because we will be fully focused on sorting Brexit, ending austerity, bringing good green jobs to Scotland, tackling the climate emergency and rebuilding communities.

Two weeks ago I was in Fife, talking to the trade union members who want to see jackets required for the new Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm made in Scotland. In government, we would ensure that these contracts are given to local business, not outsourced overseas.

Of course, if after those formative years there is a mandate for another referendum then we would not block it, but I think that an incoming Labour government that ends austerity, ends the scandal of rough sleeping, and invests in Scotland, will mean that a mandate will not be sought.

Does Boris Johnson represent a tougher political opponent than Theresa May?

He certainly has a different style but no, I don’t think so. He fundamentally represents an elite that it is Labour’s historic mission to defeat. His policy of no deal would be deeply damaging to our country, has no mandate and is deeply unpopular.

How can Labour balance the need to respect the vote to leave the EU, while also protecting people’s livelihoods?

We respect the result of the referendum but we do not respect the right of a Tory government to inflict damage on workers and communities across the country.

We will secure a deal that protects jobs and living standards and put that to a referendum, alongside remain on the ballot paper, so the people have the final say.

How would you approach relations with President Donald Trump if you were prime minister?

Unlike Boris Johnson, we won’t put the UK at the mercy of Donald Trump, while offering up our NHS to American corporations. Unlike May, there will be no holding hands. Unlike Blair, there would be no following the US into illegal wars.

We will use the close relationship between our two countries to be a critical friend. We already have very good relations with progressive US political groups.

Our relationship will be based on the great mutual respect between the British and American people, aiming to further human rights and justice across the world.

What lessons have you taken from the 2016 EU referendum campaign, which could be applied in a future one?

We must not underestimate how unhappy people are with the status quo. People want change and we must communicate how we will deliver policies that improve their lives and give people the confidence that things can and will change.

Read the most recent article written by Staff reporter - Shortlist announced for Scottish Public Service Awards 2019

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