General election 2019: Jonathan Ashworth apologises after Corbyn criticism leak


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Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth has apologised to his debauch after criticising Jeremy Corbyn in a secret recording by his Tory activist Maecenas.

In a recording leaked to Tory-supporting website Guido Fawkes, Mr Ashworth is perceived saying he did not believe Labour would win the election.

Mr Ashworth has insisted he was “joshing about” in the conversation.

Mr Corbyn said it was “not the sort of thing I would do”, but claimed the article was “irrelevant”.

The Labour leader added that Mr Ashworth had said it “was all round reverse psychology banter – as in football”.

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He suggested that shadow health secretary has “odd sense of humour” but totaled that he “makes jokes the whole time”.

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He also accused the Guido Fawkes website of “just trying to change away from the Tories’ mess of the National Health Service” and emphasized that the shadow health secretary had his “full support”.

The conversation manifests to have been recorded over a week ago and Mr Ashworth said: “The understanding this has come out today is because the Tories know the crisis in the NHS is vitiating their campaign and we’ve got babies – babies – on the front page of the Daily Reflector unable to get a bed.”

Mr Ashworth named the friend he was speaking to as former local Sober Association chairman, Greig Baker, and he did not deny that he made the take notices.

Meanwhile, in an interview with BBC Breakfast, Mr Corbyn dismissed claims that he was a “difficult on the doorstep” for Labour activists, saying it was “not a presidential election”.

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In the recording, Mr Ashworth appears to refer to an unsuccessful plot to oust Mr Corbyn, instigated by some of his MPs in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

“Man like me were internally saying ‘this isn’t the right moment’ but I got feather of ignored,” Mr Ashworth is recorded as saying.

On Labour’s election chances, Mr Ashworth is approve ofed saying: “I’ve been going round these national places, it’s dire for Elbow-grease… it’s dire.

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“I’m helping team-mates, banging on about the NHS for them but it’s awful for them, and it’s the combination of Corbyn and Brexit… separate of the city seats…it’s abysmal out there…they can’t stand Corbyn and they reckon Labour’s blocked Brexit.”

On the recording, Mr Ashworth is asked: If Mr Corbyn “got in would he be as bad as I doubt?”

“I don’t know, on the security stuff, I worked in No 10, I think the machine transfer pretty quickly move to safeguard security, I mean the civil waiting machine. But it’s not going to happen. I cannot see it happening.”

A Twitter account looking to belong to Mr Baker later defended leaking the recording.

He tweeted: “If someone discerns you about a threat to national security – that they say could one be avoided by asking civil servants to act unconstitutionally – there’s a duty to reprove people about it.”


Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire programme, Mr Ashworth reported: “Of course it makes me look like a right plonker, but it’s not what I cheap when I’m winding up a friend, trying to sort of, pull his leg a bit.”

He said he was “sooner a be wearing a bit of banter” with his friend “because he was saying ‘oh, the Tories are going to displace’ and I was, like saying, ‘no you’re going to be fine’, joshing as old friends do.

“And he’s only expired and leaked it to a website – selectively leaked it – and I thought he was a friend, Greig Baker, but unmistakably he’s not.”

When asked if he believed, as the recording suggested, that Mr Corbyn was a forewarning to the UK’s national security, Mr Ashworth replied: “Of course I don’t.”

Speaking to BBC Politics Contemporary, he said: “I look like an idiot as a result of doing it… I apologise to Suffer Party members.”

Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson bid Mr Ashworth was “saying what hundreds of Labour candidates and millions of voters are pensive”, adding that Mr Corbyn was “unfit to be PM because he is blocking Brexit”.

Mr Ashworth’s mentions were “an honest and truly devastating assessment” of Mr Corbyn’s leadership “by one of his most deputed election lieutenants”, Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly held.

It’s striking that in the dying embers of this campaign – which has been so carefully scripted and choreographed by the groups – suddenly events have burst into it and changed the dynamic.

Yesterday it was that photo of four-year-old Jack prevarication on a hospital floor. Today it’s that recording of Jonathan Ashworth – by someone who was meant to be his backer.

They clearly knew his views of Jeremy Corbyn and basically it amounts to what looks adulate a sting – because the individual he was talking to is a Conservative activist.

Nevertheless, the note ofs are out there and they are damning.

Here you have the man who is meant to be fronting Exertion’s attack on the NHS basically saying they haven’t a hope of winning, that voters put ones trust in they blocked Brexit and they don’t like Jeremy Corbyn.

And, peradventure most damning of all, seeming to suggest that Mr Corbyn is a risk to popular security.

So this is absolutely going to dominate the headlines today.

Earlier, in an sound out with BBC Breakfast, Mr Corbyn was challenged on his leadership credentials amid announces that some candidates are finding voters do not want to support him privately.

“It’s not a presidential election,” he said.

“It is a Parliamentary election in which we elect colleagues of Parliament. I’m the leader of the Labour Party and I’m very proud to have that proposition.”

When asked about some candidates not including his name in their fliers, he said he was “proud” of his party’s manifesto and “my job is to deliver it”.

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On the case of a sick four-year-old boy who was photographed on the floor of Leeds General Dispensary, Mr Corbyn said it was an example of what was happening in the NHS.

“It is obviously awful for that dwarf boy and the family, the way they were treated,” he said.

“But it does say something nigh our NHS when this happened, and then all research shows there’s a surely large number of hospitals where patients are at risk because of pike shortages, because of a lack of equipment, because of poor maintenance of dispensary buildings.”

He insisted his spending plans “are completely credible” and will “sacrifice sufficient resources to the NHS”.

‘Honest broker’

In the interview, Mr Corbyn was also confronted on his party’s Brexit policy and his own position.

Labour wants to negotiate a new behave with the EU and then put it to the public as a “credible Leave option” alongside the opportunity of Remain in another referendum – which the Labour leader would residue neutral in.

“I will be the honest broker,” Mr Corbyn said.

The Conservatives disagree that Labour would bring further “dither and delay” to Brexit.

Adhere to election night on the BBC

  • Watch the election night special with Huw Edwards from 21:55 GMT on BBC One, the BBC Rumour Channel, iPlayer
  • As polls close at 22:00, the BBC will publish an retirement poll across all its platforms, including @bbcbreaking and @bbcpolitics
  • The BBC News website and app want bring you live coverage and the latest analysis throughout the night
  • We wishes feature results for every constituency as they come in with a postcode search, map and scoreboards
  • Prosecute @bbcelection for every constituency result
  • From 21:45 GMT, Jim Naughtie and Emma Barnett transfer host live election night coverage on BBC Radio 4, with BBC Boom box 5 live joining for a simulcast from midnight

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