Front runner Jeremy Corbyn tells the final Labour leadership hustings he “can’t think” of any circumstances in which he would back deployment of British troops abroad
Jeremy Corbyn has said he “can’t think” of any circumstances in which he would back the deployment of British troops abroad.
In the final Labour leadership hustings the front runner said: “I’m sure there are some. But I can’t think of them at the moment.”
Mr Corbyn’s comments prompted a fiery exchange with Liz Kendall as she demanded he tell voters whether he would take the UK out of Nato if he became Prime Minister.
Mr Corbyn, who has been critical of what he calls Nato’s “expansionist” ambitions, said he would keep the UK’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council but ducked the Nato question.
He also appeared to claim UK weapons have been sold into the hands of ISIS militants.
Pushed on whether the UK should bomb targets in Syria to combat Isil, the left-winger said: “The issue would be we bomb, we kill people, we wouldn’t destroy or defeat ISIS, we probably make the situation considerably worse.
“If that doesn’t work the question is would you put boots on the ground? I don’t think so.”
He also laid into the UK’s defence policy, claiming the government should review foreign policy and military power.
He said: “We have to think about the level of armed expenditure we have in this country – £35 billion per year.
“I think we have to seriously look at those issues and the issues of nuclear weapons aswell, and also what our foreign policy objectives actually are. So I’m suggesting we have both a strategic defence review and a foreign policy review at the same time.
“Can we afford to have global reach as a country of 65 million people on the North West coast of Europe? Should we not be more interested in supporting international law and working with the UN rather than deciding that we as a small country can actually afford this global intervention role.”
The candidates also clashed over Europe – as Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall turned on Mr Corbyn after he said he is “concerned” about how the EU operates.
In a clear sign that the front runner could play a part in an anti-EU campaign he laid into European treaty negotiations on trade and added: ““I think we want a social Europe. A Europe of solidarity. What we’re in danger of in Cameron’s negotiations is a Europe of the free market.”
The other candidates all came out as pro-Europeans and Ms Cooper warned: “If we pull back ad stand on the sidelines and shout … we will be unable to change things.”
The pair clashed again over the economy as a furious Ms Cooper accused Corbyn of offering voters “false hope”.
She said: “Once the economy is growing, if you keep simply printing money at that time, that pushes up inflation. And when the Bank of England prints that money, it has to be paid back.
“You’re not being straight with people. It will fall apart. It will be like Nick Clegg before the 2010 election [on tuition fees].”