Portsmouth political leaders criticise Corbyn over his defence views

Daniel Gibbs

Portsmouth sailor praised for his ground-breaking new tech on HMS Queen Elizabeth

  • City politicial leaders speak of their concern at Jeremy Corbyn’s speech
  • Councillors would be worried about the future of the UK’s defence strategy if Corbyn came to power
  • It comes as the Labour leader stood by his opposition to the UK’s Trident nuclear programme
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Jeremy Corbyn is ‘not fit to lead the nation’.

That is the stark message from the Tory leader of Portsmouth city council.

It comes after the newly-installed Labour leader made his first speech during his party’s conference in Brighton yesterday afternoon.

Leading figures from all three of the Portsmouth’s main political groups – Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats – shared concerns after hearing Mr Corbyn’s first conference address, particularly with his stance on the future direction of the nation’s defence strategy.

Tory council leader Donna Jones was scathing about the Labour leader’s future political prospects.

Speaking to The News, Cllr Jones said: ‘It’s evident by Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today that he is not fit to ever be prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

‘His speech was reminiscent of an A-Level politics student’s as opposed to an experienced leader who is hoping to one day become prime minister.’

She added: ‘His naivety over the Trident (nuclear) programme frightens me as leader of a city that is home to the Royal Navy.

‘Protecting our island shores has to be absolutely paramount in the world that we live in today.

‘I would be surprised if Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the Labour party by the time of the next general election. He is clearly not fit to lead this nation.’

City Labour leader John Ferrett also shared his concerns about his party’s new leader.

He claimed Mr Corbyn’s election would make it tough for Labour to ever get a crucial foothold within the city.

Councillor Ferrett, whose brother Ken resigned from the party last week after Mr Corbyn’s election, said: ‘The speech clearly played well with the those at the conference and pressed all the right buttons in making the delegates feel good about themselves.

‘But I didn’t feel that it spoke to the rest of the country.’

Cllr Ferrett claimed that during the last election, voters ‘did not trust’ Labour on its economic plan and its ability to cut the deficit.

He added Mr Corbyn’s speech did little to regain that trust.

Likewise, the Labour leader’s comments about the Trident programme also concerned Cllr Ferrett.

‘I totally disagree with Jeremy Corbyn on Trident,’ he said.

‘I feel that the nuclear deterrent has served our country well.

‘Losing Trident could be disastrous for jobs.’

He added any detrimental impact on the nation’s overall defence services could also have a knock-on effect in Portsmouth, leaving the city in a ‘bad situation’.

Likewise, Portsmouth Lib-Dem leader and former city council head Gerald Vernon-Jackson was also critical of Mr Corbyn’s address.

Councillor Vernon-Jackson, who described Mr Corbyn as a ‘nice guy but naive’, was worried by the Labour chief’s opposition to Trident.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We have given up three-quarters of our nuclear arsenal while the response from Russia and China is to increase theirs.

‘Personally I think it is really dangerous for us to give those weapons up except if it is part of a negotiation where everyone gives up.

‘The only other country that has given up nuclear weapons is Ukraine – which is being invaded by the Russians.’

He added: ‘The world is becoming a more dangerous place and for us to give (Trident) up unilaterally, I think, is very naive.’

The reaction comes after a statement by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) which welcomed Mr Corbyn’s speech.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said the Labour leader’s address at the conference was a ‘turning point in British politics’.