Jeremy Corbyn speech as it happened: Labour leader claims centre ground then savages May and Trump


Jeremy Corbyn received a hero’s welcome as he used his keynote speech at Labour’s conference in Brighton to lay out his vision for Britain.

The Labour leader made a bold pitch for the centre ground, telling party members: “We are now the political mainstream.”

In a rambling speech that covered a raft of different policy areas, Mr Corbyn spelled out a plan for Britain that proved popular with voters at the General Election.

In a significant shift of tone, he said it was true that elections are usually won from the centre ground but added: “The political centre of gravity isn’t moved or fixable, nor is is where the establishment pundits like to think it is.

“It shifts as people’s expectations and experiences change and political space is opened up. Today’s centre ground is certainly not where it was 20 or 30 years ago.”

Declaring Labour “ready for government”, Mr Corbyn promised to sweep away a “degraded” political system that he said had led to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

He took to the stage minutes after his deputy, Tom Watson, had suggested Labour could hold a second referendum on Brexit, saying: “We’re not ruling it out.”

While making no mention of that, Mr Corbyn attacked the Conservatives “shambolic” handling of Brexit and told Tory ministers: “Pull yourself together or make way”.

Cabinet ministers “spend more time negotiating with each other than with the European Union”, he added.

The Labour leader received a hero’s welcome as he entered the hall to a three-minute standing ovation and spent much of his speech celebrating the party’s better-than-expected showing in June’s General Election.

He was cheered by a packed conference hall when he urged Theresa May to call another election. Mr Corbyn told the Prime Minister: “Take another walking holiday  and make another impetuous decision.”

In a long section of foreign policy, the Labour leader also criticised Donald Trump, calling his speech to the UN “deeply disturbing” and his stance on climate change “alarming”.

In a barely-veiled attack, Mr Corbyn said: “The values we share [with the US] are not served by building walls, banning immigrants on the basis of religion, polluting the planet, or pandering to racism.”

Mr Corbyn also promised a series of bold policies on housing, reiterating that Labour would introduce rent controls, tax land that developers are sitting on and boost compulsory purchase powers.

He also criticised regeneration projects that “really mean forced gentrification and social cleansing” and promised: “No social cleansing, no jacking up rents, no exorbitant ground rents.”

Mr Corbyn spoke as a YouGov poll for The Times found that voters prefer Ms May over Mr Corbyn as Prime Minister by a margin of 37% to 29% over, even while Labour stretches its lead over the Tories to four points, on 43% to 39%.