Corbyn on leading a coalition: 'Ask me on June 9'

Labour leader Corbyn dodged the question of a possible coalition Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

Jeremy Corbyn stood on the stump in a Reading car park and talked without hesitation, though with a good deal of repetition, for 30 minutes.

His largely white, young and middle class audience was in raptures, as he elaborated in meticulous detail all the spending on public services he would do to end seven years of austerity.

It is the message which seems to have reduced the Tories lead over Labour by 15 or so percentage points, and made it plausible - according to YouGov - that May and the Tories could lose their majority in parliament.

So obviously I had to ask him whether in those circumstances he would negotiate with the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the other smaller parties to form a coalition government led by him.

His answer: there are no such negotiations going on now; he is fighting to win.

I persevered: "you don't have to do a deal now, it's what you might do after the election".

This is what he said, with his characteristic grin: "well you'd better ask me that on June 9th".


Which of the party leaders, pictured here during the ITV News Leaders' Debate, would consider a Corbyn coalition? Credit: ITV News

So the next obvious question was whether he would offer the SNP its cherished second referendum on Scottish independence?

His answer was revealing.

He thought the Scots were less interested than they had been on such a vote, but they would and should be jolly interested in his vision of a deal with the EU on maintaining free trade with Europe's single market.

It sounded to me like the opening gambit in a coalition negotiation.

Which can be seen in two ways: as the confidence of a leader who never thought he would be so close to the vestibule of 10 Downing Street; or as an own goal, an invitation to the Tories to rework their damaging charge against Labour in 2015, namely that if you buy Jeremy you get Nicola as a twofer, whether you like it or not.