Wales Election 2016

Wales election: Jeremy Corbyn 'probably won't' visit, says Jones

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Media captionCarwyn Jones denies trying to stop Jeremy Corbyn visiting Wales

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will "probably not" visit Wales before next week's assembly election, First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.

Mr Corbyn has not visited Wales during the campaign, and a planned visit for Friday was cancelled on Thursday night.

Mr Jones said the visit was "not possible" after the suspension of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

He also told BBC Wales the response to Mr Corbyn on the doorsteps in Wales was "mixed".

Mr Livingstone has been suspended from Labour for his comments saying Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism. Mr Jones has called for the former mayor to be expelled from the party altogether.

The Welsh Labour leader said: "It was planned he was going to come. We all saw what happened yesterday with Ken Livingstone, he is dealing with that in London, so it's just not possible."

The decision not to proceed with the visit took place after "discussions between the two offices", Mr Jones said, adding that "given all the publicity yesterday it would detract from our campaign today".

'If it's possible, great'

Asked if Mr Corbyn would be in Wales before voters go to the polls next week, Mr Jones said: "Probably not, because there isn't much time and parliament is sitting next week.

"If it's possible, great, but I don't think it's going to be possible between now and Thursday."

Asked how voters were responding to Mr Corbyn on the doorstep, Mr Jones said: "I think if I'm honest with you, it's mixed.

"Yes, there are some people who are saying to me, well, I'm not sure about Jeremy Corbyn. There are others who take the opposite view.

"What we're finding is that fewer and fewer people are mentioning him on the doorstep and more and more people are saying David Cameron and the Tories, they're divided on everything."

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On Friday, a source close to Labour's UK leader said: "Jeremy Corbyn cancelled the visit due to a high level of media interest that would have affected the day's campaigning."

A spokesman for Welsh Labour said the party was trying to reschedule a visit by Mr Corbyn before polling day on Thursday.

Analysis by BBC Wales political editor Nick Servini

Senior Welsh Labour figures are putting a brave face on things but behind the scenes there is barely concealed irritation at the way the headlines have been dominated by further question marks over the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

The party has been effective so far in running a Jeremy Corbyn-free campaign. The UK leader has not been to Wales of late and there has been little mention of Westminster politics by Labour candidates so far.

There is a reason for this - Jeremy Corbyn plays badly on the doorstep with plenty of voters in key marginal seats.

Carwyn Jones says fewer and fewer people have been mentioning him, which may be a reflection of the success Labour have had in largely keeping him out of the assembly campaign.

Whether they like it or not, Labour's internal divisions at a UK level are back out in the open and it is something they are going to have to deal with as we head into the final weekend of the campaign.

'Mountain out of a molehill'

Commenting earlier on Friday on reports Welsh Labour had asked Mr Corbyn not to visit Wales, former Welsh Secretary Lord Hain said: "Given what's happening in London, it's sensible we concentrate on what's going on in Wales."

Labour was a "proud anti-racist party", he told BBC Radio Wales, saying the Livingstone controversy was "an aberration".

Newport West Labour MP Paul Flynn rejected the idea Mr Livingstone was anti-Semitic.

He said there was a "misunderstanding" over the comments and denied there was any "crisis" in the party.

"The Labour Party has been friends with Israel and with Jews forever," he told BBC Radio Cymru.

"People have made a mountain out of a molehill."

Mr Corbyn visited the closure-threatened Port Talbot steel plant in March, but has not been seen in Wales since.

Prime Minister David Cameron has only made one visit to Wales during the election campaign; earlier this week he too visited Port Talbot, and joined Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies at a factory in Gorseinon, near Swansea, although no TV cameras were allowed to film the visit.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and UKIP's Nigel Farage have both made two visits to Wales during the campaign.

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