Jeremy Corbyn Insists Labour Will Not Split Under His Leadership

Man Whose Popularity Is Splitting Labour Insists He Won't Split The Party
Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn speaks outside the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle, during his campaign.
Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn speaks outside the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle, during his campaign.
Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has rejected claims he would force the party into a 1980s-style split if elected to the top job next month.

The Islington MP's shock transformation from rank outsider to favourite in the race against Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall has sent shockwaves through the parliamentary party and prompted fears a Corbyn win would force a splinter reminiscent of that under former leader Michael Foot.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Corbyn played down fears that some Labour MPs would refuse to work with him, insisting that the number of those making "noises off" was, in fact, a small minority.

"I don't think there is any appetite for people to walk away from [the party]," he told the paper.

"I appreciate there are only a relatively small number [of MPs] who actually willingly nominated me.

Ex-Labour leader Michael Foot

"The number of MPs making 'noises off' at the moment is actually quite small," he said, adding: "A lot of MPs are looking to see what happens and what role they can fulfil."

But his comments jar with those of fellow leadership rivals Cooper and Kendall, as well as Blairite and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, who have all ruled-out serving in a Corbyn-led cabinet.

The socialist stalwart has been criticised by some MPs for previously defying Labour whips and rebelling on votes more than 500 times during his 30-year stint in Parliament, prompting concerns he could fail to unify the party if elected leader in September.

Seemingly unfazed though, Corbyn launched fresh calls for a crackdown on media mogul Rupert Murdoch's monopoly and a raid on the corporate world's levels of high pay in his wide-ranging interview with the FT.

Speaking about City workers, he told the newspaper: "I do think the salary levels and the bonus levels again have got to be looked at."

"I am looking at the gap in every organisation between highest and lowest levels of pay."

Australian media magnate Murdoch

He also set out plans to take on Murdoch's sprawling media empire, which includes The Times, The Sun and Sky.

"We need a media that is not controlled by a very small number of very big interests..."

"[Mr Murdoch] should understand that we're very serious about diversity of media ownership and I hope he will understand that."

84-year-old Murdoch prompted shock last week, after the Australian posted on Twitter that Corbyn was the "only candidate who believes anything" and remained the leadership battle's likely winner.

Yvette Cooper

Labour Leadership Contenders

But Sunday's comments from Corbyn came amid a fresh new attack from leadership rival Cooper, Labour's shadow home secretary, who said her colleague's plans to renationalise public assets and carry out quantitative easing would give anti-austerity policies “a bad name”.

She claimed the left-wing candidate's plans would hit pensions and investment confidence.

“You can’t confiscate assets and you can’t print money to pay for things because that has a much wider impact on the economy and confidence in the British economy. It would have an impact on inflation as well," she wrote in The Guardian.

“Promising to print money gives anti-austerity a bad name – and will drive people back into the Tories’ arms. We have to oppose George Osborne’s 40% cut in public services. But we have to be credible,” she added.

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