Jeremy Corbyn talks Brexit, coalitions, and what the key issues are for Milton Keynes in exclusive interview

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke exclusively to the Citizen this afternoon, when he visited MK College's Woughton campus.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 5:01 pm
All pictures: Jane Russell

Mr Corbyn was in the city for only the third stop on the campaign trail ahead of next month's general election.

And flanked by Labour's parliamentary candidates Cllr Hannah O'Neil and Charlynne Pullen, he spoke frankly about a range of topics.

Brexit remains a key issue for all voters, and Mr Corbyn said Labour had wanted and agreed to an election - but only once "crashing out of the EU with no deal" was off the table. In government Labour would then negotiate a deal, and it would be put to a public vote within six months with a choice of either Labour's deal or remaining in the EU.

All pictures: Jane Russell

"But there will always be a trading relationship with the EU," he stressed. "Otherwise jobs will be at risk.

"Labour will always have ordinary people's interests at heart."

The issues of housing in Milton Keynes was a particular pertinent one for Mr Corbyn, not least as he had looked at moving to Apsley Guise in the 1970s, only to stay in London where he was a city councillor. He reflected upon how house prices had rocketed since then.

And candidate Charlynne Pullen highlighted this as a key challenge for the city, saying: "Milton Keynes is now the buy-to-let capital of Britain.

All pictures: Jane Russell

"Public housing has been bought up and ended in the hands of private landlords."

As a governor at MK College, she also pointed to 10 years of cuts to adult education nationally, adding up to a 45 per cent fall since 2009-10.

"And yet for every £1 invested in Milton Keynes College, the city receives £4.90 back," she said.

Crime, education, and public health were other key issues for Mr Corbyn, and he said there was often overlap between all three.

All pictures: Jane Russell

He said that as a constituency MP he had worked with young people, police, and other agencies to tackle knife crime, and said that austerity had left many young people without facilities.

Cllr O'Neil echoed that, saying: "Research on gang-related activity shows that more than 90 per cent of the people involved in it had a speech or language issue when they were younger. That's why I have asked our colleagues at public health in Milton Keynes to see if they can pick this issue up earlier, and help to prevent these problems before they happen."

While Milton Keynes Council is headed by a minority Labour administration with support from the local Lib Dems, Mr Corbyn did not see that as a model for his national vision.

"We're fighting this election to win at as Labour," he said. "On a manifesto dedicated to social justice."

All pictures: Jane Russell

"I remember the last time the Lib Dems entered a coalition it was followed by 10 years of austerity and the tripling of tuition fees."

All pictures: Jane Russell