Jeremy Corbyn has said the government’s response to coronavirus proves he was “absolutely right” about public spending during the 2019 general election.
Speaking to the BBC he said he had been “denounced as somebody that wanted to spend more money than we could possibly afford” to fix social wrongs.
But the vast sums of money the government is spending on the current crisis “vindicates” his policies, with the Tories quickly realising they had to “invest in the state”.
10 years of austerity
In an interview with BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Corbyn said that the country had been “ill-prepared” for the coronavirus pandemic because of “10 years of austerity, of underfunding the National Health Service and underfunding our benefit system”.
He said the government had been “shocked” by the national emergency, as their “instincts” were for “free market economics and the small state”.
“They’ve now suddenly realised that they have to spend money to invest in the state, as we have always said as a party, and they have come around to a lot of that position.”
The Labour leader said the government had also failed to realise how many people were in “insecure” employment in the UK when they drew up their response to the emergency.
But he believed that the pandemic had changed the political landscape forever.
“I think our society and our politics will never be the same again, because we have suddenly realised as a society and a community, we need everybody – and everybody has a contribution to make.”
The result of the contest to replace him – between Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy – will be announced on Saturday, 4 April.