POLITICS
15/09/2015 16:41 BST | Updated 15/09/2015 19:59 BST

Jeremy Corbyn Stood In 'Respectful Silence' During National Anthem At Battle Of Britain Memorial Service

Jeremy Corbyn has defended his decision not to sing the national anthem during Tuesday's Battle of Britain memorial service.

A row erupted today after Corbyn appeared to stay silent while the national anthem was played at the commemoration event held at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

jeremy corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn appeared to remain silent during the anthem

A spokesman said: “Jeremy attended today’s event to show respect for those who fought in conflicts for Britain.

“As he said in the words issued this morning, the heroism of the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain is something to which we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude. He stood in respectful silence during the anthem.”

The commemorations marked the 75th anniversary of the battle - which took the lives of 3,242 aircrew and about 40,000 civilians.

Pictures taken of Corbyn showed the 66-year-old keeping his lips firmly sealed as God Save the Queen was played. The Labour leader looked solemn with his hands clasped in front of him.

His decision not to sing has been criticised by some, including Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames - the grandson of Winston Churchill - who said it was "very rude and very disrespectful".

Labour's new shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith told BBC Newsnight on Tuesday evening that Corbyn should have sung the anthem.

"I would have advised him to sing it, yes. I would absolutely, irrespective of his views," he said. "I am not sure he didn’t sing it because he is a republican, he may well have been thinking of something else."

"He was about to do his big speech at the TUC, perhaps he was thinking about that. Or more likely, he was thinking about the people he was commemorating."

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Jeremy Corbyn At Battle Of Britain Commemorations


His new deputy leader Tom Watson accompanied Corbyn to the service.

In a statement released to mark the ceremony, Corbyn said: “My mum served as an air raid warden and my dad in the Home Guard.

“Like that whole generation, they showed tremendous courage and determination to defeat fascism. The heroism of the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain is something to which we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

“The loss of life - both civilian and military - should be commemorated so that we both honour their lives and do all that we can to ensure future generations are spared the horrors of war.”

Corbyn's decision to remain silent was not the only cause for controversy during the event; even his attire was picked apart by critics who were unhappy with his appearance.

It seemed that the new leader could not do anything right as he was also falsely accused by some publications for taking "not one but two" sandwiches meant for veterans.

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