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Labour will be a 'constructive and positive' opposition, says Jeremy Corbyn's chief whip

Labour Chief Whip Nick Brown says Labour is ready for another election and will challenge Theresa May's government at Westminster for as long as she remains Prime Minister

Jeremy Corbyn’s chief whip Nick Brown says Labour will be a “constructive and positive” opposition as Theresa May attempts to lead a minority government.

But he said Labour would propose an amendment to the Queen’s Speech setting out its alternative programme for government, which would effectively be a confidence vote in the Conservative-led administration.

Speaking to the Mr Brown said Labour had surprised the Conservatives by being well-prepared for last week’s general election, with a detailed and popular manifesto ready to go, and it was equally prepared for a second election this year if one took place.

And he revealed Labour MPs previously critically of Mr Corbyn had contacted him to say they had changed their minds - and warned the party would not tolerate disloyalty following the election result.

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Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn

Mr Brown, MP for Newcastle East, said: “Many re-elected members of Parliament are coming to a more rounded view of Jeremy.

“Partly it’s because they have changed their opinion. And partly because of the successful election campaign and the way the manifesto has been received.

“Name another politician that can attract that sort of crowd?

“There was an energy and vigour about it that was uplifting.

“Labour people have seen that and some have overcome their misgivings.

“We really do have to stick together, and the party will take a very dim view of anyone who wants to commit divisive or sectarian behaviour.”

There’s plenty of speculation at Westminster about how long the Conservative government will last, given that it will not have a majority in the House of Commons.

Mrs May appears to be planning to rely on the support of the DUP, a Northern Ireland party, to allow her to win key Commons votes. But there will not be a full-blown Coalition, as there was when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats joined forces after the 2010 election.

Mr Brown said Labour would challenge the Government and test whether it had the support of the House of Commons, but will play a “constructive and positive” role.

Getty Images Europe Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn after casting his vote on election day
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn after casting his vote on election day

He said: “We are the Loyal Opposition. It is our duty to oppose in a constructive way, to test the strength of the Government’s case and agenda, and to propose amendments that will lead to a better outcome for the country.”

The party would put down an amendment during the Queen’s speech setting out an alternative programme of government, which in effect would be a vote of confidence, or otherwise, in the Government, he said.

And Labour would seek to influence the Government’s Brexit strategy, he said.

“There is a majority in the House of Commons for accepting that we are leaving but wanting a close and warm relationship with the rest of the EU.

“We want to play a constructive part in what happens next.”

He said he did not believe Theresa May could survive as Prime Minister. “In the long run, no”, said Mr Brown.

Mr Brown admitted Labour’s success in the general election was “stronger than I had anticipated”.

But he pointed out that the Conservatives and others had severely underestimated Mr Corbyn and the Labour machine.

PA Arlene Foster (left), leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, with Prime Minister Theresa May in 2016
Arlene Foster (left), leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, with Prime Minister Theresa May in 2016

The party had worked hard to prepare a detailed manifesto with policies that the party knew would be popular, he said.

And he said Labour was also ready for another election later this year, if it happens.

“People warmed to Jeremy over the campaign.

“He was going out and speaking to real people. He had real things to say.

“He recognised what was on people’s minds - that the way society is structured at the moment isn’t fair, and isn’t working for many people.

“A few are doing well out of it. Most of us are having our pay restrained, job opportunities constrained and young people are being saddled with debt which they will struggle to manage.”

He added: “Our manifesto captured a general sense of injustice and unfairness.

“And people believed Jeremy would do what he said he would. They warmed to him the more they saw him.”

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