Corbyn would have sent missiles to Ukraine, says Angela Rayner

22 March 2022, 19:02 | Updated: 22 March 2022, 19:49

By Daisy Stephens

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has told LBC that a government led by Jeremy Corbyn would have sent missiles into Ukraine.

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Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Ms Rayner rebuffed a suggestion from Boris Johnson that Labour would 'run up the white flag' in surrender over the war in Ukraine.

Andrew said: "If it's true - and it may well be true - that the Russians are in effect losing in this war, in this invasion, it is in part because of those anti-tank missiles that Boris Johnson and Ben Wallace had sent to Ukraine before the war even started.

"Are you really suggesting that a Corbyn government would have done that?"

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The deputy Labour leader said: "We're very clear that we would support and we would have given that."

She added Labour would not just give military support - although she added she 'applauded' the government for doing so - but would also give humanitarian aid.

"We've seen actually the government have not been doing anywhere near enough to ensure that refugees can come to the country," she said.

When Andrew asked if Jeremy Corbyn would have been "as effective a war leader" as Boris Johnson, Ms Rayner said: "Jeremy Corbyn was very clear on his condemnation of Putin, long before it was popular to do that.

"We've seen pictures of the prime minister with Russian oligarchs, shaking the hands of president Putin, so I'd be very careful about that language."

She added that she came from a military family and the Labour Party had been "very clear" about its desire to protect national security.

"We formed Nato, the Labour party did, because we recognised after the Second World War that it was really important that we had peacetime and that we recognised the threat that is always looming from those that want to do our United Kingdom harm," she said.

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Andrew pointed out that Jeremy Corbyn was "pretty close to being a pacifist".

"Keir Starmer has made it very clear our commitment to Nato," said Ms Rayner.

"I think [Boris Johnson] is just playing fast and loose with his comments as he often does."

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When asked where she stood on the spectrum between an anti-war mentality and a pro-defence stance, Ms Rayner said going to war "is always a very serious issue."

"My brother served in Iraq and he still faces the scars of that, you know, mental scars," she said.

"Going to war is a very serious issue but it should always be something that we have to consider to protect our country.

"I'm very clear on that... under the Labour government defence spending was much higher."

She added: "I think it's very important that we take our national security - not just seriously, but don't take it for granted.

"If there's one thing we've leant now is that we cannot take our national security for granted."

The deputy Labour leader also said that Putin "cannot win this war".

"He may be able to crush Ukraine, he may think he can do that, but he'll never crush their spirit and he'll never crush the condemnation or the absolute outrage from the international community... about what he's done," she said.

"What he needs to do is realise that this was an absolute disaster for Russia and step back from that."

Read more: Russia says 10,000 troops killed in Ukraine as Kremlin papers reveal true cost of conflict

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She added: "Every death that happens in Ukraine is on Putin's hands.

"He needs to recognise that."