UK Politics

Jeremy Corbyn tells Bradley Wiggins he enjoys 'pressure'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCorbyn tells Wiggins "I'm not that competitive"

Jeremy Corbyn says he is "not a competitive person" but "quite enjoys" the pressure of being Labour leader after decades on the back benches.

In an interview with Sir Bradley Wiggins, who is guest editing BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Corbyn opens up about how he copes with the demands of a job he never expected to get.

He also explains how making jam and tending his allotment help him relax.

And insists he can make it to Number 10 at the next election.

Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medallist Sir Bradley chats with Mr Corbyn about bikes - the Labour leader is a keen cyclist - and how strange it can feel to reach the top after years of hard work on the margins.

But Mr Corbyn rejects an analogy with sport, where people are generally "in it to win it", saying he has never approached politics in that way.

'Proud to lead'

"I am not that competitive a person in that sense," he says. "I am much more of a community co-operative type of person.

"I never really thought I would be appointed to any sort of position so my aspirations, in so far as I had any personal aspirations, were to do my best to represent people and take up causes."

He says he had to be "persuaded" to throw his hat into the leadership ring after Labour lost May's election and "it's turned out that I have become the leader of the party".

But he adds: "I am very, very proud of that position.

"It is a huge amount of work and pressure but basically very enjoyable.

"I quite enjoy pressure. I don't worry about things particularly. I just get on with it."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn is in demand from supporters...

Asked if he could envisage becoming prime minister, he says: "Yes. Yes we could.

"And the opportunity is then to seriously unlock the potential in people, young people particularly."

Mr Corbyn also speaks about the importance of having a life outside of politics, telling Sir Bradley that "working 24/7 doesn't mean you are producing 24/7".

He lists his hobbies as growing vegetables on his allotment, making jam and cakes, and "doing bits and pieces of woodwork".

Mr Corbyn took his aluminium-framed Raleigh bike along to his meeting with Sir Bradley.

When asked if that was the "famous Chairman Mao bicycle" that one newspaper said he had been seen riding, he joked: "The Chairman Mao bicycle is, you know those pigeon bikes that are very heavy with not many gears, weigh a ton and once you get them going they've got their own kinetic energy, but this one is actually a very light one so I think whoever wrote it was a Chairman Mao bicycle should be sent away for re-education."

On cycle clothing, Mr Corbyn added: "I was thinking maybe I should just cycle in one day in my Lycra, go into Parliament in the chamber with my Lycra."

Struck a chord

The Islington North MP has had a torrid time in the media - and faced criticism from some of his own MPs - since he unexpectedly swept to victory in September's Labour leadership contest with 60% of the vote.

The veteran left-winger had scraped on to the ballot paper at the last minute, on the strength of nominations from Labour MPs who wanted to broaden the debate but did not expect him to win.

But his anti-austerity message struck a chord with many on the left, who have since joined the party in their tens of thousands.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption ...and the media

As part of his guest editor slot, Sir Bradley, who is one of a string of celebrities to take over the reins of Today over the holiday period, will also meet children inspired to start cycle racing by his victories.

And he will speak to Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker about his career since he retired from football.

"I don't know anything about politics or economic policy. But I've listened to a lot of people having a good old moan over the years. You meet interesting characters when you're out on a bike," Sir Bradley said.

"I told them I'd do this show if I could shine the spotlight on stuff that interests me."

More on this story