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Jeremy Corbyn: I've sounded out MPs on shadow cabinet jobs

Published 10/09/2015

Labour leadership candidates must wait until Saturday for the result
Labour leadership candidates must wait until Saturday for the result

Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he has sounded out fellow-MPs about forming a frontbench team if he wins the Labour leadership, and has names in mind for shadow chancellor and shadow foreign secretary.

The favourite to succeed Ed Miliband insisted he was not "scared" at the prospect of taking on his party's top job after a career on the backbenches.

He insisted he will remain "a normal human being" if he wins on Saturday, and hinted he may reject some of the trappings of the office of leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition.

Mr Corbyn's comments came after a rival for the leadership, Liz Kendall, effectively conceded defeat and made clear that she is likely to become a frequent rebel if the Islington North MP wins the ballot of 550,000 Labour members and supporters.

There were calls from a prominent Labour MP for an inquiry into the election contest - and those for deputy leader and London mayoral candidate - after claims that many activists did not receive their ballot papers by the deadline for voting at noon on Thursday.

Despite a last-minute dash to send out new voting papers, would-be mayoral candidate David Lammy said as many as one in five potential voters in the capital were unable to cast their ballot.

Speaking to Channel 4 News as he attended his 99th and last rally of the leadership campaign in north London, Mr Corbyn said: "I've had many discussions with colleagues in Parliament over the past few days. There are many there who do not agree with many of the ideas I've put forward. I fully understand that.

"They also understand that whoever is elected leader - and we don't know who it's going to be - has a mandate that has come from the widest franchise there's ever been for a Labour Party election. So there's going to have to be some quite serious discussions about the way we do our economic policy and a number of other things."

Mr Corbyn said he was "extremely confident" of being able to build a shadow cabinet. He said: "I've had many discussions with people already about how we are going to take these things forward."

Pressed over whether he had people in mind for the most senior posts like shadow chancellor and shadow foreign secretary, he said: "Of course. There's lots of things in my head, including that."

Asked whether he would accept the Special Branch security, £135,000 salary and car which go with the office of leader of the opposition, the famously frugal, cycle-riding 66-year-old - who refused to get into the passenger seat for a TV interview because he "doesn't like cars" - said: "All those things are up for discussion on Sunday. Do we get Special Branch bicycles?

"Of course I've thought all of those things, I've thought about the importance of doing the job, the importance of representing the party across the whole of the country, the importance of the parliamentary work and the importance of representing my constituency. All of those things have to be balanced, and also the importance of having a moderately normal life."

When asked if he was scared at the prospect of being leader, he replied: "I'm very well aware of the responsibility. Scared? No."

In her final speech of the three-month contest, just 50 minutes before voting closed, Ms Kendall appeared close to tears as she warned that Ed Miliband's successor faces "huge challenges" to bring the party together after the "tumultuous and divisive" contest.

The Blairite candidate, who has been dubbed "Tory-lite" by some critics, conceded she may have been "too harsh" in the way she had set out her pitch but insisted it "is never too soon to tell the truth".

Ms Kendall predicted Mr Corbyn would consign Labour to Opposition and again insisted she would not serve in his frontbench team.

"The programme Jeremy Corbyn offers is not new. His policies and politics are the same now as they were in the 1980s - and will end up delivering the same result," she said.

Ms Kendall insisted she would not "compromise my principles" on a number of areas including Britain's membership of Nato, the renewal of Trident or membership of the EU.

She said: "I want to be loyal to the Labour Party whenever I can but there are some things that I believe are so important for the future of the country that I will do what my conscience tells me."

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