Jeremy Corbyn was silent this morning when questioned about the costs of Labour’s childcare policy during a car crash radio interview.
Just weeks after shadow home secretary Diane Abbott was mocked for not knowing the numbers on police costs, Mr Corbyn sat in excruciating silence when asked about how much it would cost to offer 30 hours of free childcare a week to parents of toddlers.
During his appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, presenter Emma Barnett questioned the Labour leader on the figures.
After a pause, Mr Corbyn replied: “It will cost um… It would obviously cost a lot to do so.”
When asked again if he has the figures, Mr Corbyn – who was generally thought to have done well against Jeremy Paxman on last night’s Battle For Number 10 broadcast – replied: “I’ll give you the figure in a moment.”
Ms Barnett, who has since received abuse from Jeremy Corbyn supporters for her questioning, said: “So you don’t know it?
“You’re logging into your iPad here. You’ve announced a major policy and you don’t know how much it will cost.”
She continued: “You’re holding your manifesto, you’re flicking through it, you’ve got an iPad there, you’ve had a phone call while we’re in here and you don’t know how much it’s going to cost.”
After more pauses, Mr Corbyn told her: “Can I give you the exact figure in a moment please?”
Ms Barnett told him: “It’s quite troubling, it’s a policy you’re launching today and you don’t know how much it costs. It hardly inspires the voters.”
— Emma Barnett (@Emmabarnett) May 30, 2017
After asking Mr Corbyn if he wanted to know the cost of his own policy, the Labour leader replied: “What is your estimate of it?”
The cost of extend 30 hours of free childcare each week to all children before they start school is £2.7 billion, then £4.8 billion, according to shadow education secretary Angela Rayner.
Mr Corbyn said the figures “sound correct”.
Labour supporters rounded on Ms Barnett for interrupting Mr Corbyn before he had a chance to answer questions.
Former journalist Paul Mason, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter, tweeted to Ms Barnett: “You repeatedly editorialised in a way no trained BBC journalist would, dropping in your own views/unsubstantiated claims.”
Other accused the presenter of “playing politics” with women’s issues.
Top pic: Rex