Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to say if he supports the creation of a new nuclear power station at Moorside in west Cumbria.
As campaigning for the Copeland by-election gathers momentum, he told ITV Border's Dan Hewitt that he supported nuclear power as part of the future energy mix, but he would not commit to the idea of any new development in the constituency.
The nuclear industry is a major employer in West Cumbria. If Nugen's proposal to build the nuclear power station at Moorside goes ahead, it would create around 21,000 jobs.
The exchange was recorded as part of an interview with the Labour leader ahead of the Copeland by-election:
"In 2015 you said 'I'm opposed to new nuclear. New nuclear power will mean the continued production of dangerous nuclear waste'... do you support the building of a new nuclear power plant at Moorside in Copeland?"
There's going to be a mix of energy production in this country for a long time to come, because we haven't invested in renewables at the same rate that Germany has, we support Sellafield. The issue of Moorside is clearly important, our local candidate strongly supports Moorside, the Government has got to make a decision on that in... probably 2018 because there are financial problems that Toshiba are facing at the present time, so it's a bit unclear.
"You say your candidate supports it, my question was do you support it?"
I recognise that there has to be a mix of energy production in this country. So that means, there has to be a mix of energy production in this country. I, like everybody else, want to make sure there is energy suppliers for everybody in the future.
"For people watching at home that know that Moorside will create 21,000 new jobs in Copleand, in a constituency so heavily dependant on nuclear, you're saying you don't support Moorside...?"
No I didn't say that, I said the Government is going to have to... to have to make that decision on the basis of the issues facing the company and the area at the time and we are some way off that.
"For most of your political career, you've been, at best, lukewarm towards the nuclear power industry. How do you convince voters, in a constituency so heavily dependant on that industry, that you are the man, you are the party, that they should now vote for?"
Sellafield is a major employer in the area, Sellafield workers are being very badly treated by this Government and indeed there is a dispute going on at the very moment about the pension arrangements in Sellafield. We support those workers, we support the Sellafield re-processing plant, it's going to be there for a very long time to come because there's a great deal of re-processing to be done, and we support those workers and indeed I met a number of them when I was in Copeland last week and they are very clear that we support Sellafield, we recognise its importance to the local economy, and we'll be working with it. And I suggest the Government, they treat those workers properly and don't try and cream off their pensions.
Do you accept that that is a slight change in tact from what you've said for the past thirty years of your career?
No, not at all. Sellafield has to exist. There has to be processing.
Should Moorside exist?
It has to exist so long as there is processing going on, that's necessary for the nuclear industry all over this country. We have existing nuclear power facilities, there are some new ones already being built, I also want to see a much greater diversity of energy production in the future so we don't use fossil fuels and that we do invest in renewables, which also creates a very large number of jobs, in the way that Germany has.
Dan Hewitt was later told by a senior Labour MP that the official Labour party position is pro-Moorside.