UK Politics

Jeremy Corbyn: Let's wipe slate clean and move forward

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Media caption'Let's come together and fight Tories,' Jeremy Corbyn tells Labour MPs

Jeremy Corbyn says he wants to "wipe the slate clean" if he retains his position as Labour leader.

Mr Corbyn told the BBC he had never responded to the "unpleasant remarks" directed at him by a "very large number of Labour MPs" during the campaign.

And he said "an awful lot" of MPs had called him keen to "play their part" in the party after the leadership contest.

Voting has now closed in the contest - which pits Mr Corbyn against Owen Smith - and the result is due on Saturday.

In his interview, Mr Corbyn predicted Labour would fare better under him than it did during Michael Foot's time, despite praising the former leader.

Mr Corbyn is the overwhelming favourite to win the leadership contest and, despite apparent strong backing among the party's supporters, most of his MPs do not back his leadership, and he has faced mass resignations from his shadow cabinet.

Speaking to BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, he said: "I have had an awful lot of calls from Labour MPs over the last few days, interested in how we come together after the 24th, how they play their part in taking the fight to the Tories in Parliament and outside."

If he beats Mr Smith, he said he would be "the same Jeremy Corbyn that I've been through the last year and the last 30 years in Parliament", and that he would invite his critics "to come on board to work together".

Image caption Jeremy Corbyn - who is growing an olive tree in his office - has spoken of offering MPs an "olive branch" if he is re-elected

He added: "Despite a lot of very personal criticisms that have been made about me, all the unpleasant remarks that have been made to me by a very large number of Labour MPs, I have not replied to any of them.

"I have taken it on board, understood what they're saying and [I am] asking them to behave in a decent and responsible way and come together so that we do have an ability to take the fight to the Tories.

"Wipe the slate clean and move forward."

He expressed a hope that some of the frontbench MPs who resigned would return, saying "we need to bring in many other talents" to the shadow cabinet.

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn speaks to Laura Kuenssberg

Mr Corbyn said the party's position was "very strong", despite polling showing it lagging behind the Conservatives, adding that Labour had held seats in Parliamentary by-elections and won mayoral elections.

"When people have actually voted, we have won," he said.

He said he was "very confident" people would see that "a Labour government and Labour policies make a real difference to their lives", predicting next week's party conference in Liverpool would be a "turning point".

Asked whether he was in danger of emulating former Labour leader Michael Foot - who drew large crowds at rallies but led Labour to a heavy defeat in 1983 - Mr Corbyn said the party's chances in that general election had been damaged by the breakaway SDP.

"Michael Foot did a great job and did his best," he said.

"We are going to do even better."

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