Labour 'campaigning to win', says Jeremy Corbyn amid General Election move
Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he is "campaigning to win" despite Labour languishing in the opinion polls.
The opposition leader said he wanted to be the next prime minister and head a government that would "transform this country".
He was speaking after Theresa May's shock announcement that she would move to hold a national poll on 8 June.
However, Mr Corbyn goes into the planned election at the head of a divided party, with Labour finishing 21 points behind the Conservatives in a recent YouGov poll about voting intentions.
Asked if he was the next prime minister, Mr Corbyn said: "If we win the election, yes. And I want to lead a government that will transform this country, give real hope to everybody and above all bring about a principle of justice for everybody and economic opportunities for everybody."
Challenged on whether he would quit if the party failed to win, he said: "We are campaigning to win this election, that's the only question now."
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However, in a sign of the splits dogging Labour, backbencher Tom Blenkinsop immediately said he would not seek re-election.
He said: "I have made no secret about my significant and irreconcilable differences with the current Labour leadership. It is because of these differences I feel I cannot in good faith stand as the Labour candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland."
Meanwhile, David Cameron has hailed Theresa May's "brave" decision to call a snap election.
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The former premier, who quit Downing Street following last year's Brexit vote, tweeted: "Brave - and right - decision by PM @Theresa_May. My very best wishes to all Conservative candidates."
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon branded the announcement as "one of the most extraordinary u-turns in recent political history" and argued Mrs May was "once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country".
Scotland's First Minister said: "She is clearly betting that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray in the Labour Party.
"That makes it all the more important that Scotland is protected from a Tory Party which now sees the chance of grabbing control of government for many years to come and moving the UK further to the right - forcing through a hard Brexit and imposing deeper cuts in the process."
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In a message to voters, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "This is your chance to change the direction of your country.
"If you want to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the single market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.
"Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority."
UKIP leader Paul Nuttall said: "We are in the midst of Brexit negotiations so this election will provide a perfect opportunity for the 52% to vote for UKIP, the only party wholeheartedly committed to a clean quick and efficient Brexit."