Jeremy Corbyn has fired the starting gun on his general election campaign despite losing a no confidence vote.
Labour has been on an election footing for several months now with party funds up and candidates selected for the majority of marginal seats.
But the party’s attempt to trigger a general election fell flat after the Democratic Unionist Party MPs sided with the government – despite voting down the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal a day earlier.
At a speech in the ultra marginal seat of Hastings, the Labour leader told supporters: “While Brexit consumes all the government’s energy, the vital issues that affect people most directly – cash-starved schools, the NHS at breaking point, rising bills, unaffordable housing – have all gone to the back of the queue."
He said the Tories were ignoring the needs of the country while fighting internal battles.
And he accused work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd, who holds Hastings and Rye by just 346 votes, of sneaking out devastating pension changes which will leave some £7,000 worse off while parliament voted on the Brexit deal – a charge the government refutes.
Ahead of a visit to a local hospital to discuss the NHS and social care Mr Corbyn, who has indicated that Labour could continue to call confidence votes in the government, said: "I believe that the real divide in our country is not between leave and remain.
"It’s between the many who do the work, create the wealth and pay their taxes, work in our society, deliver for the rest of us – and those others, those few who set the rules, reap the rewards and dodge their taxes."
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