UK Politics

Labour can win says Jeremy Corbyn - after Hawking criticism

Stephen Hawking and Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright PA

Jeremy Corbyn has said that he believes Labour could win a snap election.

His comments to the BBC came after scientist Stephen Hawking said Mr Corbyn was a "disaster" for Labour and should step down as leader.

The physicist told The Times that Mr Corbyn's heart was "in the right place" but he allowed himself to be portrayed as a "left-wing extremist".

Mr Corbyn told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire: "Do not underestimate the support there is for the Labour Party."

Asked if he was confident Labour could win a snap election, saying: "I want to see a different government. I don't want to see this Government in office.

"We will take our case out, we will do our very best to win the election. Nobody knows the result of a general election before they go into it, but we do know we have a very strong, moral and just case to put to this country of the kind of country we could be."

After the same question was repeated a few times, he added: "Listen, you've asked me the question many, many times. How many times do I have to tell you, we are taking our case out there to win because we believe we can win."

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn: "I don't want to see this government in office."

Prof Hawking's comments came after Labour's by-election loss in Copeland, Cumbria, to the Conservatives last month - the first by-election gain by a governing party in 35 years - and with the party continuing to lag in opinion polls.

Labour supporter Prof Hawking told The Times: "I regard Corbyn as a disaster.

"His heart is in the right place and many of his policies are sound but he has allowed himself to be portrayed as a left-wing extremist.

"I think he should step down for the sake of the party."

Mr Corbyn, from the left of the party, was the overwhelming winner of Labour's leadership election in 2015, despite having the support of only a small number of the party's MPs.

He won another vote of all Labour Party members and affiliated supporters last year following a challenge from his party's MPs.

There has been some speculation - and a call from former Conservative leader Lord Hague - for Theresa May to call a snap general election to increase the Conservative majority ahead of the Brexit negotiations.

A No 10 source told the BBC it was not something Prime Minister Theresa May "plans to do or wishes to do".

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