Jeremy Corbyn warns Labour MPs not to stand in the way of democracy


The battle over Labour's future looks set to continue if Jeremy Corbyn is elected leader with the frontrunner warning Labour MPs that he will use his grassroots support to push his anti-austerity agenda.

Meanwhile, his Blairite leadership rival Liz Kendall has signalled a willingness to join the group set up by Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt which has reportedly dubbed "the resistance" in party circles.

But Mr Corbyn cautioned his colleagues against "standing in the way of democratising the party and empowering the party members".

The Islington North MP has emerged as the surprise favourite, standing on a platform to the left of the other candidates - Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Ms Kendall.

Warnings from former prime ministers, party grandees, and current MPs do not appear to have halted his momentum and now Mr Corbyn is focusing on what may happen if he wins the race to succeed Ed Miliband on September 12.

Writing in the Independent, Mr Corbyn said: "I will absolutely use our supporters to push our agenda up to the parliamentary party and get them to follow that.

"We have to encourage the Parliamentary Labour Party to be part of that process and not to stand in the way of democratising the party and empowering the party members. It is going to be an interesting discussion."

He went on: "I just want to remind my dear friends in the Parliamentary Labour Party that we are honoured to be members of Parliament.

"We have been supported by the Labour Party to become Labour members of Parliament.

"But we are not the entirety of the Labour Party - we are part of the Labour Party. And I want to see real democracy so this election gives a very strong mandate for change within our society."

Mr Corbyn has rebelled against the party more 500 times since his election in 1983 but he defended his disloyalty, saying he has taken a "principled stand" on stances with which he passionately disagreed.

"What I find disappointing is those who say we're going to be against everything no matter what it is," he said. "That's slightly odd."

Mr Corbyn said he hoped MPs would respect that policy is not changed by the election of a new leader and that he wanted to work with his colleagues to help the party.

He added that he has had messages of support from unexpected sources in Parliament who have not taken part in the "shrill shouting match" over his potential leadership.

Ms Kendall said she expected the debate over the future of Labour to go on for a "long time".

She also indicated she was willing to join Mr Umunna and Mr Hunt's Labour for the Common Good group, which some observers see as a potential resistance faction against a Corbyn leadership.

Asked about the group by the Evening Standard, Ms Kendall said: "It's a great idea. If I'm invited I would certainly go along."

She added: "Honestly? I think the debate is going to continue after September 12. The new person will be elected, but this debate is going to go on for a long time."

Earlier, Mr Corbyn was forced to admit associating with Lebanese extremist Dyab Abou Jahjah but insisted he had no recollection of their meetings.

The Labour leadership frontrunner had declared that he did not know who Mr Abou Jahjah was as he angrily dismissed allegations of anti-Semitism.

But he has now conceded the pair had shared a platform at Westminster in 2009, shortly before Mr Abou Jahjah was banned from re-entering Britain by then home secretary Jacqui Smith.

Mr Corbyn's clarification followed online posts apparently by Mr Abou Jahjah highlighting his appearance alongside the MP at a 2009 anti-war rally and a debate in a room within Parliament.