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WATCH: Jeremy Corbyn heckled then cheered during Dudley visit

By Peter Madeley | Dudley | General Election 2019 | Published:

Jeremy Corbyn pleaded for unity over Brexit as he laid out his plans to revolutionise Britain during a campaign visit in Dudley.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn surrounded by supporters at the Upper Gornal Pensioners Club in Dudley

The Labour leader was met by a small group of protesters calling him "scum" and an IRA sympathiser as he arrived at the Upper Gornal Pensioners Club on Kent Street.

It was a different story inside the venue, where Labour activists packed into the main room cheered as he extolled the virtues of his party's radical election manifesto.

WATCH: Jeremy Corbyn heckled then cheered in Dudley

Jeremy Corbyn visits Dudley on General Election 2019 campaign trail

Mr Corbyn, who earlier in the day had launched his bid for Number 10 in Birmingham, told campaigners that a Labour government would "transform" the lives of millions of people by redressing the imbalance in British society.

Flanked by Labour's Dudley candidates Melanie Dudley and Lucy Caldicott, he said he would oversee a "green transformation" of the economy" with a series of measures that would be funded by taxing big business and those who are well off.

And speaking in a constituency where nearly 70 per cent of people voted to leave the EU, he vowed to "close down" the issue of Brexit and unite the country.

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Labour’s manifesto commits the party to renegotiating a new deal with the EU within three months of taking power, before staging a public vote by June 2020.

Mr Corbyn, who has refused to state his own position on Brexit, said: "My job as Prime Minister would be to implement the result of the referendum.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addresses supporters at the Upper Gornal Pensioners Club

"That will close the issue down. Leave or remain, we will carry it out, but we will not destroy our industries, destroy our public services or destroy our relationship with all of our neighbours.

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"I realise that no one thing will please everybody, but if you voted Leave and are living in a poor place in a difficult situation, or you voted Remain, and are living in a poor place in a difficult situation, we've got to come together and not put one against the other."

The Ian Austin question

Mr Corbyn was in the town to support Labour candidate Melanie Dudley, who is attempting to retain Dudley North for Labour.

In 2017 it was held by Ian Austin by just 22 votes, but he has since quit the party in opposition to Mr Corbyn's leadership. He recently stood down and endorsed the Conservatives.

In an attack on the former MP, Mr Corbyn said: "This time, people can vote Labour with confidence that their candidate is not going to join the Tories."

The pensioners club was packed for Mr Corbyn's visit

Mr Austin was among political opponents in the town who were far from impressed with the Labour leader's decision to visit the constituency.

He said: "In 14 years I brought every Labour leader before Jeremy Corbyn – and dozens of other members of the cabinet or shadow cabinet – to Dudley, and not a single one shied away from talking to the public.

"Instead of sitting in a room with people who are going to cheer him on, he needs to start listening to what ordinary folk in the Black Country have got to say."

Marco Longhi, the Tory candidate for Dudley North, claimed that Mr Corbyn's stance on Brexit meant that he was not welcome in the constituency.

"If he did meet people on the doorstep like I am, he would hear what I'm hearing: people want to know why he blocked Brexit in Parliament.

Ian Austin stood down as MP for Dudley North, having left the Labour Party earlier this year

"People want to know why he wants another referendum when the people have already spoken.

"Everybody now knows that by voting Labour they will get huge delays and then Remain."

There has been a mixed response to Labour's manifesto. The Reform thinktank said Mr Corbyn's "eye-watering tax and spend pledges" were "unaffordable and undeliverable".

Meanwhile the Institute for Fiscal Studies said the "colossal" scale of spending Labour was planning meant that poorer people would end up paying more tax.

Corbyn urges Labour voters to 'think it through'

Jeremy Corbyn urged traditional Labour voters to "think it through" before backing the Tories in the election due to Brexit.

The Labour leader delivered the message to voters in the Black Country and Staffordshire who are considering deserting his party over its refusal to back Brexit since the referendum in 2016.

In an interview with the Express & Star at the campaign event in Dudley, he said: "I think people should think it through.

Mr Corbyn with Labour's Dudley South candidate Lucy Caldicott, left, and Dudley North candidate Melanie Dudley, right

"Under Labour people will have a choice of Leave or Remain, but it will be one that protects jobs.

"Think through what a Tory government has done, and think through what a Tory government will do.

"We will invest for the future, in education, in health and in housing, and yes, we will cause tax rises for the very richest and biggest corporations, but we think that is the right thing to do.

"We cannot go on with this level of inequality in Britain. I understand why people voted the way they did in 2016 and that's why I want to bring people together."

Mr Corbyn also addressed concerns over the funding of his manifesto plans, which will see rich people and big business pay billions more in tax.

Asked if he feared that companies such as Jaguar land Rover could shift operations abroad under a Labour administration, he said: "They won't be taxed to high heaven.

"They will be taxed at a rate that was what happened in 2010, and actually even that rate of corporation tax will be lower than the rate in France and a number of other countries.

"I have to say, when I've spoken to the CBI about this... I'm not saying they are delighted with all this... But they do understand that we will tax more in order to train workers for the future and build a better skills base.

"We want to work with JLR, and companies like JLR, for a better skills base for the future."

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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