Jeremy Corbyn's team told BuzzFeed News it was "not invited" to campaign events on Tuesday and that access to the Labour leader would be limited for the rest of the campaign, following the publication of an interview on Monday night in which Corbyn said he intended to remain in the job even if he lost the general election.
A BuzzFeed News reporter covering Labour's campaign launch in Manchester on Tuesday was told she could not join the leader on campaign stops in the afternoon. An aide told her BuzzFeed News was not invited and implied it was as a result of the interview, which led on Corbyn's comment that he would "stay leader of this party" regardless of the election results.
Political editor Jim Waterson, who carried out the interview, then contacted Corbyn's spokesperson to find out why we had not been invited to the campaign stops. A senior Corbyn aide told him that BuzzFeed News would now find its access limited because the interview had disrupted media coverage of Labour's launch event, that we had not informed Corbyn's team in advance of the headline we intended to run, and that we had press-released the interview to other media organisations who then chose to pick it up.
There were no disputes about the accuracy of the reporting of the comments made by Corbyn regarding his political future, which were also recorded by the Labour leader's team. Aides were present throughout the conversation.
But in an interview with BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg on Tuesday afternoon, Corbyn denied saying in the interview that he would stay on if he lost. He told her: "No, I told them I would carry on as leader because we'll have won the election by then."
As a result, BuzzFeed News is now publishing the audio recording of the interview, which shows that he was responding to the question of what would happen if Labour lost.
Here's the full exchange:
Jim Waterson: "Forgive me for asking this, I know you're in to win it. But if it goes wrong, if for whatever reason in a month's time you don't get to walk into Downing Street, is this the one shot that people have to vote for Jeremy Corbyn?"
Jeremy Corbyn: "I was elected leader of this party and I'll stay leader of this party."
JW: "So you're going to stay leader of this party, no matter what happens?"
JC: "I'm carrying on."
BuzzFeed News has previously reported on how Corbyn's media team has adopted the effective strategy of focusing on broadcast and limiting print access to a select number of visits on a rota basis.
For the interview on Monday, Corbyn's team went out of their way to ensure there was time in the leader's busy schedule for the conversation to take place.
There was no suggestion at the time from them that the BuzzFeed News interview should focus on any particular issue and there were no complaints immediately afterwards from his aides about the choice of questions, nor did they make any attempt to spin his words.
As well as the exchange about his future, it also covered other topics such as his deep conviction that Labour can win and the passion he felt for being out on the campaign trail. In a relaxed mode, he also talked about how he would propose an “economic agenda which benefits the vast majority of people and does challenge inequality” and thinks about “the homeless, those looking for a house, those in work where their skills are not properly recognised” while on the campaign trail.
After it was published on Monday night the story was widely read and commented on with even former Labour MP Michael Dugher – one of Corbyn’s most vociferous and less subtle critics – calling it “respectful & fair, illuminating & insightful”.
When contacted on Tuesday afternoon for this story, Corbyn's office declined to comment.
Hannah Al-Othman is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Hannah Al-Othman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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