Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to write to Jeremy Corbyn after 'unacceptable' Whitehall health claims

Posted On: 
1st July 2019

Britain's top civil servant is to write to Jeremy Corbyn after "unacceptable" claims by government officials that the Labour leader isn't healthy enough to become Prime Minister.

Sir Mark Sedwill is to write to Jeremy Corbyn "shortly", Theresa May's spokesperson said.
Credit: 
Civil Service World

Mr Corbyn had demanded an explanation from Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill following reports in The Times that quoted two senior civil servants saying there was a “real worry” Mr Corbyn was being “propped up by those around him”.

One official was quoted as saying: "There’s growing concern that he’s too frail and is losing his memory. He’s not in charge of his own party."

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But the reports were rubbished by the Labour leader, who branded the story “a farrago of nonsense” and called on the Cabinet Office to launch a probe.

The Labour leader said: "There must be an investigation into which senior civil servants are spreading fictitious information to the press and in the process compromising the integrity of the civil service."

Downing Street on Monday confirmed that Sir Mark, who also serves as head of the civil service, would be responding to Mr Corbyn's letter "shortly".

The Prime Minister's official spokesperson said: "Impartiality is one of the fundamental values of the civil service and underpins its ability to effectively serve the Government of the day.

"It would clearly be inappropriate and unacceptable for comments of this sort to have been made or briefed to the press. The Cabinet Secretary will be writing to the leader of the opposition shortly."

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett, a key ally of the Labour leader, wrote to Sir Mark on Sunday, saying The Times articles "offer a credible account of conversations at a senior level in the civil service about the Leader of the Opposition".

He added: "The premise of these conversations is the allegation that Mr Corbyn’s health is poor. This is manifestly untrue.

"Discussion of these matters, based on false assumptions, should not be taking place. Worse, it is without precedent in my experience that any high-level discussion about senior politicians, let alone the leader of the Opposition, should be shared with a newspaper."

Mr Trickett also demanded a meeting with the civil service chief "to discuss this deeply concerning development".