Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Worries in Stroud Green Road and Mansfield are the same’
Labour leader tells Tribune those facing economic hardship in Remain Islington are exactly the same as those in Leave Midlands
15 November, 2019 — By Emily Finch
Jeremy Corbyn at the Brickworks Community Centre in Crouch Hill
JEREMY Corbyn has explained why he believed people who face economic hardship in Islington may have voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU referendum while those in a similar economic situation in the East Midlands voted to leave.
In a sit-down interview with the Tribune ahead of the December 12 general election at which he hopes to become the next prime minister, Mr Corbyn said that people were “not lesser socialists” if they had voted for Brexit.
The Labour Party leader was speaking following his campaign-launch on Monday at the Brickworks Community Centre in Crouch Hill to be re-elected as Islington North MP.
During a 45-minute speech, he told the crowd that someone living in private rented accommodation in Stroud Green Road on Universal Credit and on a zero-hours contract who “worried about your children’s future” faces “exactly the same economic situation” to someone in Mansfield in the East Midlands living with the same pressures.
He said: “[The] interests of both of your families is exactly the same in getting rid of a government that has impoverished this country so much. There is so much that unites people against this government and unites people around the policies that we put forward.”
When asked by the Tribune why he believes Islington and Mansfield voted so differently in the EU referendum – Islington was 75 per cent Remain while Mansfield was 70 per cent Leave – he said this was because of the decline in “industrial strength” of some Leave areas.
He said: “I think the feelings of many of the Leave areas are one of anger at the lack of investment, and a feeling that the industrial strength they had is gone.
“This area [Islington] has never really had any one big employer or one big industry. In fact, it’s quite a long time since London was dominated by manufacturing industry. And so there’s that kind of diversity of employment.”
Mr Corbyn added: “If you go to a town, say Consett in Durham, a steel town, it’s gone. Everything gone and it was never replaced by anything else.
“Take Shirebrook, Nottinghamshire, which was a modern, very efficient colliery with well paid jobs, albeit dangerous to work in the mines, and it was a secure community where the mining union and miners were sort of the gem of the town.
“Gone, replaced by Sports Direct, zero hours contracts and very low pay, and a sense of anger and resentment.
“So the referendum was essentially a hit against the way in which they perceived their communities have been treated. And so I kind of get that.”
Mr Corbyn’s party has pledged to renegotiate Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal but also hold a second EU referendum if elected. “Over the past four or five years I’ve always travelled a lot around the country,” he said.
“So my whole strategy which had, yes, stretched some people’s patience at times, has been to try and bring people together. And that’s why we adopted the policy we have, which will result in a referendum. It will result in a choice.”
Mr Corbyn called the Brexit party leader Nigel Farage’s decision to stand down candidates in Tory-held seats as an “unholy alliance”, adding:
“And they think that somehow or other they can frighten us with this. It’s not going to work.”
He said Labour will campaign on issues “that matter” such as “social justice issues”, “climate issues” and their “sensible policy on Brexit”.
When asked how he thinks the “alliance” came to be, he said: “Basically, they’ve worked together in the referendum campaign, and I think they worked together over a long period of time on their vision of a Trump-type relationship and it’s interesting that both Farage and Johnson seem to have a very close personal relationship with President Trump.”
He said that the Labour Party does not get “fair coverage” in between elections in the media but changes to broadcasting rules for the last general election, in 2017, “changed the whole nature of the campaign very quickly, we got more coverage.”
He added that party officials are “monitoring very closely all broadcast media for the time Labour gets on air, the emphasis that’s put on our comments and our statements and demanding the broadcasting rules be carried out to the letter”.