The Labour party has hit back at a newspaper investigation that claims senior civil servants are worried Jeremy Corbyn is too frail to become prime minister and could resign as leader over health concerns.
Anonymous civil servants told the the Times that Corbyn, 70, could be forced to stand down because he was not up to the job “physically or mentally”. According to the newspaper (£) , the future of the Labour leader was discussed at an event attended by mandarins earlier this month amid suggestions he was “losing his memory”.
However, Labour MPs and activists have rebutted the report, asserting that Corbyn ran more than 5km several times a week, cycled and exercised at an outdoor gym.
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the Labour MP for Slough, wrote on Twitter: “Give us a break – where do they get these headlines from!
“Along with his parliament duties @jeremycorbyn is campaigning up & down the country, enough to put many of us seasoned campaigners to shame. I see & chat to him almost every week – there’s nothing frail about him.”
The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, told Sky News that Corbyn ran every day.
And the former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell said: “I’d rather have my country run by democratically elected Jeremy Corbyn than the smug, self-regarding, incompetent Whitehall officials that briefed this to the Times,” adding: “Get these vile Sir Humphry’s out!”
Corbyn has been the MP for Islington North in London since 1983 and became Labour leader in September 2015.
In March, Labour said he was receiving treatment at Moorfields eye hospital in London for muscle weakness in his right eye.
In a 2017 interview, the Labour leader insisted he had “loads of energy” because he ate porridge and energy bars and avoided meat and alcohol.
George Aylett, a Labour activist in Hull, tweeted: “Corbyn goes on 5-7k runs, campaigns up and down the country and there are videos of him rock climbing. I hope I’m that ‘frail’ when I’m 70!”
A party spokesperson said: “Jeremy Corbyn leads an active life, running and cycling regularly, and is in good health. Reports to the contrary are scurrilous and a transparent attempt to undermine Labour’s efforts to redistribute wealth and power from the few to the many.”
Labour figures also told the Times there was a culture of bullying and intimidation in the leader’s office, with a former cabinet minister alleging there was a “moral malaise at the top”.
The party spokesperson said the allegations were “clearly based on politically motivated anonymous briefings rather than fact. No complaint of this nature has been made through union or party processes, and if they were, they would be fully investigated.”