JEREMY Corbyn has raised concerns about the neutrality of civil servants who reportedly told a newspaper that he was not “physically or mentally” fit to be prime minister.
The Labour leader, 70, called for an investigation to find out which officials briefed that he may be forced to stand down because he was becoming “too frail and losing his memory”.
2 Civil servants were quoted as saying Corbyn was becoming too frail to be opposition leaderCredit: PA:Press Association
2 Corbyn called the claims a “farrago of nonsense”
An article published in The Times on Saturday quoted two people described as “senior civil servants” as saying Corbyn was being “propped up” by advisers, and that he struggles to keep on top of foreign affairs and the domestic agenda.
One told the paper: “When does someone say [he] is too ill to carry on as leader of the Labour Party let alone prime minister?
“There must be senior people in the party who know that he is not functioning on all cylinders.”
Labour roundly rejected the claims as a “scurrilous” attempt to thwart Labour’s goals, insisting Mr Corbyn was in good health and led an active life.
Mr Corbyn himself has now accused The Times of publishing a “farrago of nonsense”.
“I am a very fit, very healthy, very active person,” he said.
“I love what I do, I love my community, and I love being outdoors.”
Previous reports have claimed some shadow ministers are worried that Mr Corbyn is exhausted and being “run ragged” by his commitments.
The rumours come after aides admitted in March that the opposition leader was being treated at a specialist hospital for an eye condition.
‘CIVIL SERVICE MUST BE INDEPENDENT’
Speaking to reporters earlier today, Corbyn also stressed that the civil service must be an independent institution.
“The idea that civil servants should be briefing a newspaper against an elected politician, against a prospective government, is something that should be very concerning to a lot of people,” he said.
“The civil service has to be independent. It has to be non-political and has to be non-judgmental of the politicians they have a duty to serve.
“I would make that very clear if we were elected to government.
Some commentators say the chances of a Corbyn government have risen in recent months, the ongoing stalemate in parliament over Brexit having made a general election more likely.
“We have a very clear framework of things we want to do in this country on housing, education, health and the environment, and so many things,” said Mr Corbyn.
“We would explain those to our colleagues in the civil service and expect them to carry out those policies.
“That is the way British democracy must work.
“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.”
A Labour spokesman said: “Jeremy Corbyn leads an active life, running and cycling regularly, and is in good health.
“Reports to the contrary are scurrilous and a transparent attempt to undermine Labour’s efforts to redistribute wealth and power from the few to the many.”
Mr Corbyn also received support from an unlikely corner.
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Former UKIP MP Douglas Carswell tweeted: “I’d rather have my country run by democratically elected Jeremy Corbyn than the smug, self regarding, incompetent Whitehall officials that briefed this to the Times.
“Get these vile Sir Humphry’s out!”
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