Scotland politics

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn begins tour of Scottish seats

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn calls on SNP to use powers to offset austerity

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has begun a tour of Scottish constituencies with a visit to the Western Isles.

Mr Corbyn met staff at Harris Tweed Hebrides and is to address a town hall rally in Stornoway to highlight his party's policies for rural areas.

He is to tour a series of marginal seats in Scotland over the next five days, attending speeches and rallies.

The Tories say his policies lack credibility, while the SNP were critical of his position on Brexit.

Labour gained six seats north of the border in June's snap election, having lost 40 in the previous poll in 2015.

Image caption Mr Corbyn arrived in Stornoway for the start of his Scottish tour

However, they were less than 100 votes behind the SNP in two Glasgow seats, and less than 1,000 votes behind in six Scottish seats in total.

With the election result stripping Theresa May's Conservatives of their majority in government, Mr Corbyn has pledged to remain on an election footing. His party has identified up to 18 Scottish seats as potential targets.

The Labour leader is using his visit to the Western Isles to highlight Labour plans to "rural-proof" policies in government, so that all laws are assessed on their impact on rural communities.

Image caption The Labour leader is using the trip to the Western Isles to highlight his party's rural policies

Mr Corbyn said: "Rural communities have been taken for granted for too long. There has been chronic underinvestment in transport, broadband and public services, with rural infrastructure and industry neglected.

"Labour will invest in transport, broadband, public services, housing and environmental and coastal protections - vital for the economy and the rural way of life."

He pledged to visit Scotland "roughly once a month" to campaign, and called on the Scottish government to use "every power they've got" to combat austerity from the Westminster administration.

Image caption Jeremy Corbyn speaks in Stornoway

The SNP has a lead of just over 1,000 votes in the local constituency of Na'h-Eileanan an Iar, where Angus MacNeil held his seat in June's election by a majority of 6.8%, over a Labour challenger.

A spokesman for the party said Mr Corbyn's "backing for the Tories' extreme Brexit, outside the single market and customs union, is set to hit our rural communities hardest".

He added: "Rural areas benefit massively from our membership of the EU, having access to funding, tariff-free trade and a highly-skilled labour market.

"Sadly, rather than wanting to protect these benefits for rural communities, Labour are pledging to deliver an extreme Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn and Labour simply cannot be trusted to deliver for rural Scotland."

The Scottish Conservatives, meanwhile, said it wasn't long ago that Scottish Labour "dreaded the thought of Jeremy Corbyn coming north".

MSP Miles Briggs added: "Had he won the general election, Corbyn would have sold Scotland out in a heartbeat, and that ambivalence to Scotland's place in the UK hasn't changed."

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