During the final week of the December 2019 general election a phone call between Mr Ashworth and a Conservative activist called Greig Baker was leaked to the media. In the phone call the Labour MP can be heard saying the electoral prospects for Labour were “dire” – a statement he later described as banter. Politics Live host Jo Coburn savagely grilled the Shadow Health Secretary on his previous comments when on the BBC today.
Ms Coburn said before the video played: “Jon, you will be delighted to know that the last time you were on this programme was during the election campaign towards the end.
“You were responding to a leak of a phone call between you and a Tory activist friend.”
Mr Ashworth quipped: “Not a friend anymore.”
The BBC Journalist continued: “In the phone call you had said that it was dire on the doorstep for Labour and they were struggling, here is how you explained yourself.”
In the video, Mr Ashworth said: “I’m doing what Alex Ferguson would do trying to psych him out saying ‘you’re going to win, don’t worry about it’ because I know he is an activist in Canterbury.
“I am trying to make him complacent, obviously I look a plonker now.”
Ms Coburn replied: “You say it’s banter but if you’re saying you don’t believe any of the stuff you said in response you said ‘I have been going around these national places, it is dire for Labour, it’s dire.
“‘I am helping colleagues banging on about the NHS for them but it is awful for them and it’s the combination of Corbyn and Brexit outside of the city seats.’
“Do you believe that?”
The Labour MP said: “No I don’t.”
The Politics Live host said to Mr Stewart following the end of the clip: “In that interview Jon you said you were being a plonker for the banter but were you not instead a plonker for pretending you didn’t mean what you said?”
Mr Ashworth responded: “No because at that point in the campaign I thought we had turned a corner and I thought we were probably heading for a similar hung Parliament.”
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Earlier this month Rory Stewart had to re-watch his terribly wrong Brexit prediction on Politics Live.
Mr Stewart who is now no longer an MP was one of the candidates running to be the leader of the Conservative Party at the time of his prediction.
He declared during the summer of 2019 that anyone who thought they could go to Brussels and get another deal did not understand what was happening in Europe and had not been following the news.
Earlier this month Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill passed the third reading in the House of Commons.
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