Corbyn takes aim at "war on terror" in return to UK election campaigning

The Labour Party has slashed the Conservatives' lead to just five points according to the latest opinion poll

Corbyn takes aim at "war on terror" in return to UK election campaigning

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech during a General Election campaign event in central London, 26-05-2017. Image: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 11:15

The British security minister has expressed his disappointment at the timing of a speech on UK foreign policy that the Labour Party leader is giving today.

Jeremy Corbyn is making his return to election campaigning with a speech blaming UK foreign policy for terrorism at home.

His party has slashed the lead of Theresa May’s Conservative Party to just five points according to the latest YouGov/Times opinion poll, released this morning.

The party has made consistent gains in recent weeks as Mr Corbyn claimed his message was beginning to get through to voters.

The results show a four-point gain in support since last weekend – when polls show the gap had been shortened to 9% - the first time it had been narrowed to single figures since Mrs May called the snap election in Late April.

War on terror

In his speech today, Mr Corbyn said the so-called "war on terror" is not working and will promise that a Labour government would change foreign policy so it fights rather than fuels terrorism.

His opposition to UK involvement in overseas conflicts goes back decades and has put him at odds not just with Conservatives, but also many in his own party.

He was one of the leading opponents of the Iraq war and since becoming Labour leader has attacked UK intervention in Syria and suggested during this election campaign that he would refuse a NATO request for more troops.

Disappointing and crass

However, after the extracts from the speech were released last night, Ben Wallace, Britain’s security minister said the timing of the speech is “incredibly disappointing and crass given there is a live police operation.”

“This is why his timing is also appalling, because I don’t think the substance of what he says is correct at all,” he said.

In a speech in central London this morning, Mr Corbyn has promised a major change in foreign policy should he become Prime Minister, adding that Labour wants to "change what we do abroad."

He said: "Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home."

"That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and held to account for their actions," he said.

"But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people that fights rather than fuels terrorism.

"We must be brave enough to admit the 'war on terror' is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism."

Speaking about his "commitment to our country", Mr Corbyn said: "I want the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government."

"There can be no love of country if there is neglect or disregard for its people," he said.

"No government can prevent every terrorist attack. If an individual is determined enough and callous enough, sometimes they will get through.

"But the responsibility of government is to minimise that chance - to ensure the police have the resources they need, that our foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country and that at home we never surrender the freedoms we have won and that terrorists are so determined to take away."

On domestic policy, he said: "To keep you and your family safe, our approach will involve change at home and change abroad.

"At home, Labour will reverse the cuts to our emergency services and police. Once again in Manchester, they have proved to be the best of us.

"Austerity has to stop at the A&E ward and at the police station door. We cannot be protected and cared for on the cheap.

"There will be more police on the streets under a Labour Government. And if the security services need more resources to keep track of those who wish to murder and maim, then they should get them."

The British Prime Minister Theresa May will chair a session on counter-terrorism with G7 leaders in Sicily, Italy this afternoon.