Corbyn admits colleagues unhappy at ‘restricted’ conference speeches
Some shadow cabinet members are unhappy about not getting to speak from the main platform at the Labour conference in Brighton, Jeremy Corbyn has said.
Asked why Manchester mayor Andy Burnham would not get a slot, the Labour leader said there was a need to “rebalance” the conference in favour of delegates.
Speaking times would be “severely restricted” this year, he told the BBC.
He also said Labour would consider scrapping the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, if it won power.
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The Labour faithful are gathering in Brighton for what Mr Corbyn has said will be the party’s biggest-ever conference.
He has denied being “bounced” into giving London mayor Sadiq Khan a slot by the party’s conference arrangement’s committee.
Mr Khan and Mr Burnham, who was elected mayor of the new Greater Manchester combined authority in May, are two of Labour’s most powerful elected politicians.
Mr Corbyn – who will address delegates on Wednesday – told BBC North West Tonight: “I want to make sure that delegates have more time to speak than in the past and so we’ve reduced the number of platform speakers and reduced the time for platform speakers, including shadow cabinet members.
“I can’t say any of them are very happy about it but it has to be done if we’re to rebalance our conference. And I want to make sure there is a big voice for local government.”
The comments came after Mr Corbyn had told BBC London on Friday that he was “delighted” that Mr Khan will be speaking.
Mr Khan has been critical of Mr Corbyn in the past and backed Owen Smith’s leadership challenge last year, had not been expected to get a conference slot.
In another interview, for BBC Points West, Mr Corbyn would rule out a Labour government pulling the plug on Hinkley Point C unless the nuclear power station was “already built and in operation”.
Last year, the government approved the new £18bn plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, which is being financed by French state-owned power company EDF and the Chinese government.
Critics of the deal have warned of escalating costs, including in the so-called “strike price” – the guaranteed amount that consumers will pay for the electricity generated. The UK government has guaranteed EDF a fixed price for the electricity it produces for 35 years.
Asked whether Britain’s new nuclear power station should go ahead, Mr Corbyn said: “You have to look at the strike price, you have to look at the long term implications of it.
“The government has not yet concluded on that.”
However, asked whether he would pull the plug if Labour came to power after the station had been built, he said: “If it’s already built and in operation then of course not.
“But I do want to see, I must say, a much greater diversity of energy generation.”
The Labour leader has given a series of media interviews ahead of the party’s annual party conference, which begins in Brighton on Sunday.
He told the Guardian that Theresa May’s government was in disarray and Labour under his leadership now represents the mainstream of British politics.