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Jeremy Corbyn on shadow foreign secretary job, Keir Starmer’s donations and not becoming an elder statesman

PUBLISHED: 15:28 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:47 28 February 2020

Stock photo of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addresses protesters at a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament demonstration against a possible war with Iran in Trafalgar Square, central London. Picture: John Brady/ PA

Stock photo of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addresses protesters at a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament demonstration against a possible war with Iran in Trafalgar Square, central London. Picture: John Brady/ PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Jeremy Corbyn says his favoured frontbench opposition post would be shadow foreign secretary – and that Sir Keir Starmer should publish his full list of donors.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture: PALabour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture: PA

But the Islington North MP made clear he gets on well with leadership candidates Sir Keir and Rebecca Long-Bailey, both his cabinet colleagues, and suggested their differences are amplified in the press.

In a wide-ranging interview due to be published in full in next week's Gazette, the outgoing Labour leader and Islington North MP talked Arsenal, EU arrest warrants, media attacks and the importance of local papers.

Mr Corbyn's tenure as Labour leader will end when the winner of a three-way contest to replace him is announced on April 4.

Asked what shadow cabinet position he'd take if offered his pick, Mr Corbyn said: "I think foreign policy actually because I have spent my life on human rights justice and environmental justice issues. But that's not up to me, that's up to the next leader. I will be working on human rights, environmental and social justice whatever position I hold or don't hold."

Ms Long-Bailey and the third candidate Lisa Nandy have both published their lists of campaign donations exceeding £1,500. But Sir Keir, who YouGov predicted will win the leadership contest in the first round, hasn't yet done so, prompting Young Labour to urge him to release the list in full.

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Asked if the shadow Brexit secretary and Holborn and St Pancras MP should oblige, Mr Corbyn said: "Yes. I think there always has to be openness in all respects, and when you receive financial support for a political campaign it's very important to know where it comes from, all of it should be published. I published everything in my leadership campaigns. The number of high-level, big ticket donors we had was very small, I leave that to others."

In an implicit dig at Eton-educated PM Boris Johnson, he added: "I have never been to a black tie ball in my life and I don't play tennis."

No doubt a reference to Mr Johnson's recent appearance at an opulent ball for Tory donors, attendees reportedly paid tens of thousands for two games of tennis with the PM.

Mr Corbyn said that, whatever happens in the Labour polls, the socialist project he's fostered since September 2015 isn't over because all candidates support the anti-austerity agenda, green industrial revolution and ending Universal Credit.

Mr Corbyn added: "Obviously I know all the candidates extremely well. I have worked closely with Becky and Keir and, indeed, they have worked closely together as colleagues. [...] Sometimes the differences are amplified."

But he later added: "I'm not disappearing,"

Shadow chancellor exchequer John McDonnell, 68, has said he won't be taking a frontbench role, but this week added that he's not "going away" and will play the role of "elder statesmen".

Asked if he considers himself an elder statesmen too, Mr Corbyn, 70, said: "No. I leave that elder stuff to John, he's young enough to be getting away with it."

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