JEREMY Corbyn has insisted he is “quite content” with the interventions of Yorkshire Labour MPs widely seen as challenging his leadership of the party.
Mr Corbyn claimed speeches of the like made by Dan Jarvis and Rachel Reeves in recent days were a symbol of the “open” party he wants to create.
The weekend saw a fresh round of speculation about a potential challenge to Mr Corbyn prompting deputy leader Tom Watson to call on the party to “calm down”.
Last week, Mr Jarvis, the Barnsley Central MP, delivered a speech calling for the party to be “radical” in its approach to beating the Conservatives and praised Ms Reeves, the Leeds West MP, who days earlier had set out her alternative vision for the Budget.
During a visit to Sheffield, Mr Corbyn said: “They both made interesting speeches about the economy, about how we develop in our society.
“I want the Labour Party to be open to and encouraging exactly that kind of debate. I don’t see a problem with this.
“I see a virtue in people saying ‘hang on, the Labour Party is prepared to have a serious, sensible, open discussion about its economic direction. Good, that’s the kind of party I want to be involved with.
“I’m quite content with it all.”
The Labour leader was in Shiregreen to help launch the campaign of Sheffield councillor Gill Furniss who is hoping to succeed her husband Harry Harpham as MP for SHeffield Brightside and Hillsborough. Mr Harpham died last month.
He was rewarded with a standing ovation after speaking to activists at the Shiregreen
Community Centre where he promised to defend the steel industry and called for “fair taxation” to pay for the NHS.
Asked whether he felt vindicated by the response of the audience, Mr Corbyn said: “It reminds me why we are a party, it reminds me what we have to do together, it reminds me what brings people into the Labour movement.
“It is putting forward ideas, policies and activities which do benefit everybody and we put out those principles there that everybody is inclusive in our society.”
Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough is a very safe Labour seat but, in common with other parts of Yorkshire traditionally dominated by the party, has seen a rise in support for the UK Independence Party.
Mr Corbyn said Ukip’s rise was fuelled by a “disillusionment with politics”.
“If we turn in on ourselves and blame anybody else and everybody else for our problems we don’t actually achieve anything.
“We only achieve things when we work together and when you look at the diverse nature of our candidates in the election for Sheffield City Council we represent the whole community and that’s what we intend to do.”
Mr Corbyn said he believed his call for an “interventionist government, an approach where we solve our problems collectively” would appeal to former Labour voters who had switched to backing Ukip.