Corbyn urges Theresa May to debate with him in public

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Jeremy Corbyn has urged Theresa May to change her mind on debating with him in public, as he criticised the prime minister for her language when she said he would be “naked in the negotiating chamber” if he led Brexit talks. reports citing the Guardian.

“I certainly wouldn’t use language like that myself,” Corbyn said when asked about May’s comments, following a press conference to lay out Labour’s plans to commit extra resources to health, education and social care.

“I think it’s totally inappropriate to describe anyone as naked. Even me.”

Amid reports that Corbyn could decide at the last minute to take part in a BBC party leaders’ debate, where May will be represented by Amber Rudd, the home secretary, he called on the prime minister to end her boycott of such events.

Corbyn recounted Monday’s television debate, in which he and May took questions from an audience and Jeremy Paxman, but did so separately, never being in the studio at the same time.

“How ridiculous is that?” he said. “Come on, prime minister, come and have a chat, come and have a debate. I can be ever so polite, but there are a number of questions I want to put to you.”

Asked whether he would take part in the BBC event, Corbyn declined to say. An announcement as to whether it will be him or Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, is expected later on Wednesday.

He also dismissed questions about a YouGov seat projection in the Times, which predicted a hung parliament, and what this would mean for possible coalition arrangements, saying he still hoped Labour would win outright.

Appearing at the press conference alongside Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, and Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, Corbyn presented the election as a choice between Labour spending more money on public services and further Conservative austerity.

“The future of our national health service and our schools are at stake in this election,” he said. “The state that the Conservatives have left our NHS and children’s schools in is anything but strong and stable.”

Corbyn sought to frame Labour’s offering as more hopeful and forward-looking: “This is about our future. It is about health, it is about education. But in this election our party is putting forwards something positive, confident, hopeful and optimistic for the people of Britain, for this country.

“We’re not threatening another five years of cuts, loss of jobs and low wages. That’s the difference between us and the Conservatives.”

Labour has produced a 36-page dossier outlining what the party claims would be the consequences of five further years of a Conservative government, extrapolating what would happen based on current spending shortfalls.

“Another five years of the Conservatives would be disastrous for our public services,” Corbyn argued. “If they carry on as they are now, then by 2022 there could be 5.5 million people on the NHS England waiting lists, 1.5 million more people with unmet care needs and 650,000 pupils crammed into primary classes of over 30.”

Speaking about NHS resources, Ashworth said trusts were running a deficit of more than £700m in the current financial year. By 2022, he said, 3.5 million people a year would be waiting longer than the four-hour target at A&E departments.

He also highlighted what he said was crumbling NHS infrastructure, saying it appeared to be part of the reason for hospitals being particularly affected by a cyber-attack earlier this month.

The dossier contains a list of what Labour says are other serious problems at hospitals caused by a lack of investment, including a leak from a ceiling into an operating theatre, which required patients to be moved.

“The Conservatives in this election are misleading voters about their record and are being dishonest with voters about their plans for the future,” Ashworth said.

“The choice in this election is now clear – it’s a choice between investment in the NHS in Labour, versus no more money for the NHS under the Tories.”

Rayner outlined what she said was a similar picture on education, highlighting large class sizes, a lack of resources and Conservative plans to replace free school lunches for primary children with breakfasts, a scheme that appears to have not been fully costed.

“What is all the more shocking is that against this backdrop of failure, the Tories are choosing to concentrate on building a handful of new selective schools for a handful of better-off children,” she said.

2017.05.31 / 19:35
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