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Jeremy Corbyn: Government's coronavirus response shows I was 'absolutely right' on public spending

Jeremy Corbyn will stand down as Labour leader next week.

3 min read

The Government's response to the coronavirus outbreak shows Labour's plans for a huge increase in public spending was "absolutely right", Jeremy Corbyn has claimed.

The outgoing Labour leader also said Boris Johnson should have moved towards a full lockdown of the country sooner than last Monday.

Speaking to the BBC as he prepares to make way for his successor, Mr Corbyn said the scale of the current crisis had shown the Conservatives "that they have to spend money to invest in the state, as we have always said as a party".

He added: "I did everything I possibly could to win both elections and to say to the people of this country, the only way our society can come together is if we're prepared to invest.

"I was denounced as somebody that wanted to spend more money than we could possibly afford, in order to write the social wrongs of this country.

"I didn't think that it would take only three months for me to be proved absolutely right by the amount of money that government is now prepared to put in - and Parliament has just voted through - to deal with the coronavirus crisis."

Mr Corbyn also accused the Government of failing to do enough to help self-employed people who have seen their incomes slump because they have been forced to give up work due to the epidemic.

He said: "The Government was too slow to recognise how serious the crisis was, too slow to take the measures that they finally took last Monday.

"But above all, too slow to recognise that our economy and our society is radically changed. Large numbers of people are self-employed, do lead insecure lives, and that the people who are most vulnerable are the ones who are now getting the least."

The Labour leader said the £94.25-a-week rate of statutory sick pay, which many are now being forced to rely on because of the outbreak, was "simply not enough".

Meanwhile, he said the self-employed were now "frightened" of what the future holds.

"They've had to give up their income, particularly those that are manual working, and they haven't got sufficient support, and there are many people who are very frightened," he said.

Mr Corbyn's comments came as Rishi Sunak unveiled a £9bn package of support to help the self-employed through the crisis.

They will receive up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, with the average payout expected to be around £940.

However, it is only available to those who earn most of their income from self-employment, and they will not start getting their money until the beginning of June.

The Chancellor said: "95% of people who are majority self-employed will benefit from this scheme.

"HMRC are working on this urgently and expect people to be able to access the scheme no later than the beginning of June.

"If you are eligible, HMRC will contact you directly, ask you to fill out a simple online form and pay the grant straight into your bank account."

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