Corbyn dismisses talk of leadership challenge

British Labour Party leader says he will stand again if there is a challenge

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed speculation about a leadership challenge as a media preoccupation and claimed that the issue of anti-Semitism in the party had been "dealt with". Amid reports that his critics are hoping to persuade veteran London MP Margaret Hodge to challenge him for the leadership within weeks, Mr Corbyn said he will stand again if there is a challenge.

“When I talk to people on the streets . . . they are talking about housing, poverty, cuts, zero-hour contracts, low wages, the crisis of expectations among young people.

“It’s time that many of the media, the golden circle of the media establishment, actually got out and talked to people. Many people are obsessed with this instead of what they should be obsessed with: the devastating crisis of inequality in our country.”

Pollsters predict Labour will lose ground in national assemblies in Scotland and Wales and lose up to 200 English local council seats in elections on Thursday. Mr Corbyn expressed confidence that the party would lose no English council seats, although he insisted “there are no goals, no targets”.

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London mayoralty

Labour’s best prospect tomorrow is in London, where the party’s candidate

Sadiq Khan

hopes to win back the mayoralty after eight years under Conservative

Boris Johnson

. Mr Khan has warned that the row over anti-Semitism in the Labour party is undermining his campaign and yesterday he criticised the leadership’s response to the controversy.

“They need to understand what anti-Semitism is. Maybe they could do with some training about the importance of dealing with these issues . . . I think the Labour leadership needs to act far more decisively and swiftly when these sorts of comments are made,” he said.

Mr Corbyn said the issue of anti-Semitism in the party had been dealt with through suspensions of those who had made controversial statements.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is London Editor of The Irish Times