Jeremy Corbyn 'not embarrassed in the slightest' by Diane Abbott's car crash interview

Andy Wells

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has stepped in to defend Diane Abbott after her car crash interview on radio this morning.

Shadow Home Secretary Ms Abbott stumbled over the cost of Labour’s plans to put 10,000 extra police on the street in awkward exchanges with LBC’s Nick Ferrari.

In the excruciating exchange, that was punctuated by bouts of silence, Ms Abbott’s attempted to come up with the bill for the policy, but her figures would mean officers would earn just £30.

A second go at coming up with the right numbers still left them with just £8,000.

Ms Abbott’s assessment of how many new officers would be recruited in one year ranged from 25,000 to 250,000, which over the course of the four-year plan would mean one million extra bobbies on the beat.

Diane Abbott was mocked for an excruciating radio interview this morning (Rex)

Mr Corbyn has now insisted he is “not embarrassed in the slightest” over the sums for a flagship election policy, telling Sky News the policy would cost £300 million while denying the awkward interview had caused embarrassment.

He said: ”She corrected the figure and that’s the figure and it will be paid for by not going ahead with the cuts in capital gains tax.”

Asked if it was embarrassing that Ms Abbott got the figures wrong, he said: “Not at all. We have corrected the figure and it will be absolutely clear now, today and in the manifesto.

MORE: Diane Abbott: Read full transcript from excruciating ‘£80m police spending’ radio interview
MORE: George Osborne promises to ‘inform and entertain’ on first day as editor of Evening Standard

“I’m not embarrassed in the slightest.”

Asked if the party was getting its act together, he replied: “Our act is well together, we are campaigning across the whole country, our party is working extremely hard on all of this and we are putting out what I think are exciting and interesting policy ideas.”

The gaffe was quickly seized on by the Conservatives, who claimed it showed that Labour’s sums “don’t add up”.

The shadow home secretary got her figures on policing wrong live on air (Rex)

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Diane Abbott has laid bare the chaos that Britain would face if Jeremy Corbyn is voted into Downing Street.

“One of Corbyn’s closest allies has clearly shown that Labour’s sums don’t add up, they would weaken our defences, and their nonsensical promises aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.”

Ms Abbott initially said the four-year project would cost £300,000, then revised it up to £80 million before finally landing on £718 million.

Although the plan is to recruit 10,000 officers, Ms Abbott said 25,000 new recruits would be brought in annually before later saying 250,000 policemen would be employed in the first year of the scheme.

Jeremy Corbyn insisted he was not embarrassed by Ms Abbott’s fumbling interview (Rex)

Starting salaries for police officers in England and Wales range from £20,000 to £23,000.

Labour has said its plans for extra “bobbies on the beat” would be funded by reversing Conservative cuts to capital gains tax (CGT).

The party said going ahead with the cut to the higher rate of CGT from 28% to 20% and basic rate from 18% to 10% announced in last year’s Budget would cost public services more than £2.7 billion over five years.

Top pic: Rex

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes