Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly refused to say whether he backed the renewal of Trident tonight as he endured his toughest interview of the campaign so far.

The Labour leader and CND vice-chair floundered as he was pressed on how his views were compatible with his party’s position.

In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, Mr Corbyn also struggled to explain his soft stance towards the IRA in the 1980s and how he would tackle ISIS given that he has ruled out airstrikes and drone attacks against targets in Iraq and Syria.

The veteran left-winger also refused to commit to cutting immigration, and made clear he still regards Nato, the basis of Western security since the 1940s, as a ‘Frankenstein’ organisation.

The Labour leader and CND vice-chair floundered as he was pressed during a BBC interview tonight on how his views were compatible with his party’s position In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, Mr Corbyn also struggled to explain his soft stance towards the IRA in the 1980s and how he would tackle ISIS

Mr Corbyn was challenged again and again to say he supported the renewal of Trident, but declined to do so. He has previously said there are no circumstances under which he would use nuclear weapons as PM.

‘I voted against the renewal, everybody knows that, because I wanted to go in a different direction. That decision has been taken, I respect that decision,’ said Mr Corbyn.

He added: ‘It’s there in the programme, it’s there in the manifesto, it will be carried out… it’s the position we are adopting as a party and we will take into government.’

Mr Corbyn said the ‘role’ of nuclear weapons would be included in a defence review if he wins power on June 8.

Asked whether that meant he could ‘ditch’ the nuclear deterrent, Mr Corbyn said: ‘It will look at the role of nuclear weapons.’

Mr Corbyn was torn to pieces by Neil as he tried to justify his long history of support for the IRA’s cause.

The presenter said: ‘You say you didn’t support the IRA. But you invited convicted IRA terrorists to tea in the Commons a few weeks after the Brighton bomb which tried to destroy our elected government.

‘You stood for a minute’s silence to honour – your word, Mr Corbyn – honour IRA terrorists killed by the British army.

‘Throughout the ’80s and the ’90s you spoke at scores of hard-line republican gatherings which backed the IRA and the armed struggle.

Mr Corbyn replied: ‘I always wanted and always do want peace, always want a dialogue between people of vastly different backgrounds. And the minute’s silence you referred to was in 1987 and it was for all who’d died in Northern Ireland.

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott (right) and shadow attorney general Baroness Chakrabarti today, previously opposed moves to bar British jihadis from returning to the UK Speaking in the Commons in 2014, Jeremy Corbyn (pictured giving a speech in London today) said the government should not be trying to make ‘subjective’ decisions about who were ‘good fighters and bad fighters’ in Syria

Neil pointed out that the purpose of the meeting had in fact been to ‘honour’ the eight IRA terrorists that had been killed.

Mr Corbyn said: ‘I said all those that have died in Northern Ireland. I made that very, very clear.’

The presenter pushed Mr Corbyn to say whether at any point he had publicly urged the IRA to give up ‘the bomb and the bullet’.

A spluttering Mr Corbyn replied: ‘I always said the bombing process would never work – that there wasn’t a military solution to be found in Northern Ireland.’

The Labour leader was asked how he would tackle the ISIS threat, given that he ‘wouldn’t put boots on the ground, you wouldn’t bomb the terrorists, you wouldn’t use drones to take out the terrorist leaders’.

Mr Corbyn did not dispute the premise of the question, answering: ‘Isis doesn’t come from nowhere. Isis doesn’t get its money from nowhere.

‘Isis doesn’t get its arms from nowhere. Isis does have a whole lot of connections around the world, financial and others, which I think need to be robustly chased and followed.’

An incredulous Neil said: ‘That’s it, that’s the smarter way?’

Mr Corbyn said: ‘Well, that’s a good start for doing it.’

There was also a difficult time for Mr Corbyn when Neil raised the fact that 180 of his own MPs had voted no confidence in his leadership.

The presenter quoted MPs including John Woodcock, who previously said he would ‘not not countenance ever voting to make Jeremy Corbyn Britain’s Prime Minister’.

He also cited former Cabinet minister Alan Johnson’s description of him as ‘useless, incompetent and incapable’.

‘That’s the people that know you,’ Neil said.

Mr Corbyn said: ‘Listen, this Manifesto has been agreed by everyone in our party.’

Neil persisted: ‘Why should the voters trust you when so many even of your own MPs don’t trust you?’

The Labour leader said: ‘Well, you could have quite easily got quotes from a number of people who would say positive things.’

The exchanges came after Theresa May lashed out at Mr Corbyn for making ‘excuses’ for terrorists by linking UK foreign policy to the Manchester bombing.

Theresa May said while she had been working with G7 leaders at a summit in Sicily today, Mr Corbyn had shown he was ‘not fit’ to be in charge of the country

The Prime Minister accused the Labour leader of saying terror attacks are ‘our own fault’ and condemned him for delivering the controversial speech just four days after the atrocity.

Mrs May said while she had been working with G7 leaders at a summit in Sicily, Mr Corbyn had shown he was ‘not fit’ to be in charge of the country.

‘I want to be very clear about what has been said today,’ Mrs May told a press conference at the summit.

‘I have been here at the G7 working with other international leaders to fight terrorism.

‘At the same time Jeremy Corbyn has said that terror attacks are our own fault.

‘He has chosen to do that just a few days after one of the worst terror atrocities we have seen.’

She added: ‘There can be no excuse for terrorism. There can be no excuse for what happened in Manchester.’

Comments are closed.