Labour 'content' with Jeremy Corbyn relaunch despite media criticism

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Labour has insisted it is "content" with Jeremy Corbyn's New Year relaunch, despite widespread media criticism of his performance.

A senior party source said Mr Corbyn's widely-mocked interventions on Brexit and executive pay had got the country talking about Labour's positions on inequality and life after EU withdrawal.

The source denied Tuesday's media blitz - which included TV and radio interviews followed by a high-profile speech - amounted to a "relaunch" of the leader, insisting this was not a term Labour had used.

Reports over the Christmas break suggested Labour strategists were planning to reposition Mr Corbyn as an anti-establishment firebrand appealing to voters disgruntled with politics as usual.

Despite the chasm between his political views and those of Donald Trump, it was reported Mr Corbyn would take a leaf out of the president-elect's book by making bullish interventions which would dominate the political narrative, even if they were criticised in the media.

Tuesday saw Mr Corbyn initially signal Labour would cut post-Brexit immigration by announcing he was "not wedded" to the principle of free movement for EU nationals, only to suggest later free movement might be accepted in return for access to the single market and then saying in his speech he did not rule it out.

On executive salaries, he caused surprise in an early-morning radio interview by saying he was interested in a maximum pay cap, only to back down in the speech, when he said Labour was instead looking at maximum ratios between the highest and lowest salaries in a company.

Aides said he had "misspoken" in the Today programme interview and a later TV appearance.

The day's events won Mr Corbyn a Guardian front page for his "assault on fat cat salaries", though the paper said in a leader that his interventions were "clumsy".

Other less sympathetic publications were scathing, with the Daily Telegraph saying Labour's immigration policy was "in disarray" and the Daily Mail describing the entire relaunch as an "omnishambles".

Asked if Labour was happy with how the relaunch had gone, the source said: "'Relaunch' is not something we've said. We've never called it a relaunch. I think that came out of the ether."

He added: "In relation to pay ratios and different forms of caps on excessive executive pay, I think that case was made very clearly and people have been talking about it, especially on the most listened-to radio stations and outlets.

"We are very content with that. We want people to be talking about a more equal Britain and how to achieve it. We want people to be talking about the fact that the Government's approach to the Brexit negotiations doesn't only exhibit no plan, but offers nothing to people in terms of their lives and how it would play out."

Labour wanted to set out a "different approach" to Brexit, focusing on how ordinary people's lives could change after EU withdrawal, rather than on the technicalities of the legal and political processes, said the source.

"Jeremy was setting out the case that we can build a better Britain after Brexit, that we can take back powers to intervene in the economy and rebuild the economy, that we can intervene in the labour market to regulate it much more tightly and reverse much of the deregulation that's taken place over the last 20 or 30 years," said the source.

"That would affect everybody but it would also have implications particularly for the exploitation of migrant workers in particular sectors and that would lead to a reduction in numbers."