Labour MP urges Jeremy Corbyn to speak out on Venezuela crisis

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Jeremy Corbyn faces a crucial test of his leadership in how he responds to the crisis in Venezuela, a veteran Labour MP has said.

The Labour leader has supported the left-wing governments of the South American country but has remained silent as it descended into chaos in recent weeks.

Former minister Frank Field said the situation in Venezuela was "desperate" as President Nicolas Maduro attempted to secure his grip on power in the face of mounting violence.

Mr Corbyn is returning to the political front line after a summer holiday in Croatia and Mr Field said he needed to respond to the situation.

As a backbencher, Mr Corbyn hailed former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as an "inspiration to all of us fighting back against austerity and neo-liberal economics in Europe" and supported parliamentary motions linked to the country, including one which congratulated Mr Maduro on his election as president and called for closer ties with Caracas.

Mr Field suggested the Venezuela situation could have greater repercussions for Mr Corbyn among his younger supporters than the Tory attempts during the General Election campaign to highlight his links to Irish republicans.

He told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour: "I do think one of the worries that people may have is 'do we believe in parliamentary government or not' and therefore how this runs is totally different to what the links may or may not have been with the IRA, when most people were not born."

He added: "I think how he responds on this is crucial and I think what's going on in Venezuela is desperate."

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