Jeremy Corbyn: Islington North MP on Piers Morgan, EU arrest warrants and his proudest achievements as leader
PUBLISHED: 13:48 11 March 2020
PA Wire/PA Images
Have you heard the one about Jeremy Corbyn, Héctor Bellerín and Piers Morgan walking into an awards dinner?
The story went viral in 2017 after the Good Morning Britain presenter and Arsenal fan approached the Labour leader and the fullback at a GQ awards bash to ask their views on Arsene Wenger, whom he wanted to step down.
'Hector Bellerin was a nice guy, very interesting,' Mr Corbyn told the Gazette. 'Piers Morgan kept interrupting our conversation and asking about Wenger. So we transferred our own conversation into Spanish and Piers Morgan became extremely annoyed and said: 'I have been cut out of this conversation, and then tweeted [about it].'
Sitting in a Newington Green cafe on Friday the Arsenal-supporting MP winced when asked about his team crashing out of the Europa League the night before.
Reflecting on Arsenal's dire season, which sees the club languishing in mid-table, Mr Corbyn smiled and paraphrased Liverpool legend Bill Shankly, saying: 'Football is not a matter of life and death, it's far more important than that.'
Away from the not-so-beautiful games played at the Emirates this year, Mr Corbyn is readying himself to step down as Labour leader when his replacement is named on April 4.
He said: 'Has it made me a better MP? It has sometimes been very frustrating when there is a school event or something on mid-week and it clashed with PMQs - and I know I have to be at PMQs - but people have been incredibly understanding.'
He added: 'It's very easy as an MP to get stuck away from your constituents, I have seen it happen over many years. There's always something interesting and appealing to do in Westminster. But I have always worked on the policy that my first loyalty is to the people of Islington North.'
Mr Corbyn said the common constituency issues he deals with are around housing, particularly housing security in the private rented sector, over-crowding, homelessness and sofa surfing.
You may also want to watch:
He added: 'There are quite a lot of immigration and refugee issues that come up, usually around family reunion when people have leave to remain in Britain but don't earn enough to bring their family in, which I think is very unfair.'
He still deals with cases of people caught up in the Windrush scandal and affected by Universal Credit.
In a message to online supermarket Ocado, which has sought planning permission to build a delivery depot with three diesel pumps near Yerbury Primary School, Mr Corbyn said: 'Think about the community and think about levels of pollution and reflect on what Richard Watts and I told you about using electric vehicles.'
Mr Corbyn says he's never had a home delivery in his life and gets his shopping from Morrisons, Tesco and a fruit and vegetable store in Finsbury Park, 'unless it's coming from the allotment in the summer'.
Delivery driver Takieddine Boudhane was stabbed to death in Finsbury Park on January 3 - and Islington's top cop Ch Supt Raj Kohli claims the prime murder suspect has fled to Europe.
But the government last week confirmed it won't seek to stay in the European Arrest Warrant, which enables speedy extradition of criminals from EU countries, as part of the next stage of trade talks with the bloc.
'I think the government has made a huge mistake here,' said Mr Corbyn. 'We warned about this in the election. People who flee justice, such as the suspect in the case of Taki who has apparently fled to EU jurisdiction, we should have a right to bring back.'
He says his proudest achievements as Labour leader are overseeing a membership boom from about 200,000 in 2015 to some 600,000 now, and committing the party to end austerity and pursue a green industrial revolution.
Mr Corbyn is also particularly proud of his policy proposals to properly fund the arts in schools and support creative industries across the country.