8 things we learned from Corbyn's round of media interviews
Jeremy Corbyn did a whirlwind tour of different media on Tuesday, appearing on TV and radio before he makes a major speech on Britain’s future following Brexit.
Here are eight things we learnt from his round of media interviews.
1. Corbyn doesn’t like the idea that he’s being relaunched.
Over the Christmas break, a series of apparently well-sourced stories appeared in the press detailing plans to “relaunch” the Labour leader as a left-wing populist to ride the tide of anti-politics sentiment among voters.
But when Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid asked him what the “reboot” was all about, he seemed surprised.
The reboot was something she had dreamt up, he suggested.
He certainly didn’t need any new boots because he was “very well-shod, thank you”.
2. He’s even less keen on being compared to Donald Trump.
“Senior Labour figures” have recently been quoted suggesting Corbyn might benefit from adopting some of the president-elect’s bullish style in standing up for disgruntled voters who feel they have not been listened to.
But the Labour leader was having none of it.
Any comparison with Trump was “bizarre”, as the President-elect espoused “a kind of buccaneer capitalism which I totally disagree with” and his comments about Muslims, Mexicans and women were “disgraceful”, he said.
He did concede Trump had managed to mobilise “naffed off” voters, which he could see the merit in.
And he said he was still willing to take the future president to a London mosque for a chat over a cup of tea to “help him with his prejudices”.
3. Corbyn is in favour of long-serving Islington residents keeping their jobs despite failing to win competitions.
The Labour leader tweeted he would “talk some sense” into fellow Arsenal fan Piers Morgan, who has conducted a long and outspoken campaign for Wenger to be sacked for his failure to win the Premiership title since 2004.
The left-winger was quick to leap to the manager’s defence when Morgan presented him with an Arsenal shirt, telling him: “Can we dedicate it to Arsene Wenger? I think he’s done a great job for Arsenal.”
4. Corbyn thinks it’s possible to earn too much money.
In the most eye-catching announcement, the Labour leader told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme he would like to see a maximum earnings limit to reduce inequalities in society.
He did not say where the cap should be set but said it would be “somewhat higher” than the £138,000 he earns as an MP and Leader of the Opposition
5. Corbyn thinks some footballers are earning crazy money.
He made no attempt to hide his distaste for the megabucks salaries of the Premiership elite, comparing them to big business bosses who earn “utterly ridiculous” sums.
And he suggested that Wenger would agree.
As “an accountant at heart”, Wenger would probably back a maximum wage cap on the whole of the Premiership, he said.
6. Labour still doesn’t have a settled message on EU migration.
Corbyn’s speech was billed as the moment he would accept some limits on free movement, announcing the party was “not wedded” to the principle.
But when pressed on the issue on air, he appeared to indicate he was ready to accept EU migration as the price for access to the European single market.
His priority was on preventing the undercutting of wages by exploited migrant workers, which would “probably” reduce numbers of incomers, he said.
But he added that “we’re not saying anyone couldn’t come”.
Meanwhile, he acknowledged other Labour MPs – including his own shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer – had put forward “fairly specific ideas” on how migration could be limited, but did not spell out whether he agreed with them.
7. Corbyn would join striking Southern Rail workers on the picket line… but not today, because he’s busy.
Despite recognising that passengers were “utterly fed up”, Corbyn insisted it was the “appalling service” offered by Southern which had got them angry.
He told the Today programme he would be ready to join the railway workers’ picket lines, but later told Sky News he couldn’t do it today because he had a shadow cabinet meeting to attend.
8. Corbyn really thinks the press should focus more on council elections.
Some Westminster observers have suggested Labour’s fourth place in Sleaford and deposit-losing 3.7% vote in Richmond Park are a cause for concern.
Over recent months, Corbyn has repeatedly sought to counter the idea by pointing to Labour successes in local council by-elections – some of them attracting tiny numbers of voters.
He was at it again today, telling Reid and Morgan that he wished Labour had done better in the Commons by-elections but local authority polls were important, too.