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Jeremy Corbyn will sing national anthem at ceremonial events, Labour says

Published 16/09/2015

Jeremy Corbyn, right, stands as the national anthem is sung during a service at St Paul's Cathedral
Jeremy Corbyn, right, stands as the national anthem is sung during a service at St Paul's Cathedral

Jeremy Corbyn's leadership has been thrown into fresh confusion after the party was forced to clarify that he will sing the national anthem at ceremonial events.

Mr Corbyn repeatedly refused to say during a pre-PMQs interview that he was prepared to join in renditions of God Save The Queen.

But minutes later a Labour spokesman insisted Mr Corbyn had "meant to say" he would sing.

Mr Corbyn has been heavily criticised - including by members of his own front bench - after remaining silent while David Cameron and others sang the anthem during a Battle of Britain commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral.

Asked repeatedly in the pooled interview whether he would sing in future, the Labour leader merely insisted he would "take part fully" and "did not see a problem" with his actions.

"I was at the Battle of Britain memorial yesterday, I was there out of respect for that amazing moment in British history," he told Sky News.

"I was also thinking about my family, my mum and dad who were there at that time in London and worked as air raid wardens during the Blitz."

Pressed on whether he would sing in future, Mr Corbyn replied: "It was a respectful ceremony and I stood in respect throughout it.

"I will be at many events and I will take part fully in those events. I don't see a problem about this."

He added: "The issue surely is that we had a memorial for the Battle of Britain, I was there and I showed respect for it.

"The proper way is to take a full part in it, and I will take a full part in it."

A Labour Party spokesman said: "What he meant was that 'taking part fully' would include singing the anthem.

"That is what he was saying in the interview this morning."

Newly-appointed shadow environment secretary Kerry McCarthy said Mr Corbyn should have sung the anthem to "avoid all the fuss".

She told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme: "If only to avoid all the fuss I think it would have been advisable to do so."

She added: "When the Government was slashing tax credits, when Jeremy did an important speech to the TUC, you don't really want the headlines to be whether or not he has sung the national anthem. So, I think at least for that reason..."

"He has very genuine views on these things. Certainly when I go to the annual Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in Bristol I would sing the national anthem."

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said: "I think it is absolutely outrageous. It is an important symbol singing the national anthem."

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