Labour leader questions role of service after officials suggest he may have to stand down
Jeremy Corbyn has raised concerns about the neutrality of the civil service after anonymous senior officials claimed he was too frail to become prime minister and may resign as Labour leader over health concerns.
The civil servants told the the Times that Corbyn, 70, could be forced to stand down because he was not up to the job physically or mentally.
According to the newspaper, the future of the Labour leader was discussed at an event attended by mandarins earlier this month amid suggestions he was losing his memory.
Corbyn said in a statement on Saturday that the briefing given by civil servants against his suitability was something that should be very concerning to a lot of people.
The civil service has to be independent. It has to be non-political and has to be non-judgmental of the politicians they have a duty to serve.
I would make that very clear if we were elected to government. We have a very clear framework of things we want to do in this country We would explain those to our colleagues in the civil service and expect them to carry out those policies. That is the way British democracy must work.
Corbyn also denied suggestions he is considering resigning as party leader due to his health, insisting he is a very fit, a very healthy and very active person who enjoys his job.
He told ITV News: I thinks it is a farrago of nonsense that The Times have written.
I think its diminishing of what was once a great newspaper that the front page should be full of tittle tattle from civil servants and people who either dont know me or dont understand me.
I love what I do, I love my community and I love being outdoors.
The Labour leaders comments came after MPs and activists rebutted the report, asserting that Corbyn ran more than 5km several times a week, cycled and exercised at an outdoor gym.
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the Labour MP for Slough, wrote on Twitter: Give us a break – where do they get these headlines from!
Along with his parliament duties, Jeremy Corbyn is campaigning up and down the country, enough to put many of us seasoned campaigners to shame. I see and chat to him almost every week – theres nothing frail about him.
The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, told Sky News that Corbyn ran every day.
Former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell said: Id rather have my country run by democratically elected Jeremy Corbyn than the smug, self-regarding, incompetent Whitehall officials that briefed this to the Times, adding: Get these vile Sir Humphrys out!
Corbyn has been the MP for Islington North in London since 1983 and became Labour leader in September 2015.
In March, Labour said he was receiving treatment at Moorfields eye hospital in London for muscle weakness in his right eye.
In a 2017 interview, the Labour leader insisted he had loads of energy because he ate porridge and energy bars and avoided meat and alcohol.
George Aylett, a Labour activist in Hull, tweeted: Corbyn goes on 5-7k runs, campaigns up and down the country and there are videos of him rock climbing. I hope Im that frail when Im 70!
A party spokesperson said: Jeremy Corbyn leads an active life, running and cycling regularly, and is in good health. Reports to the contrary are scurrilous and a transparent attempt to undermine Labours efforts to redistribute wealth and power from the few to the many.
Labour figures also told the Times there was a culture of bullying and intimidation in the leaders office, with a former cabinet minister alleging there was a moral malaise at the top.
The party spokesperson said the allegations were clearly based on politically motivated anonymous briefings rather than fact. No complaint of this nature has been made through union or party processes, and if they were, they would be fully investigated.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us