Jeremy Corbyn has attempted to dampen a bitter row with Labour MPs and his own shadow cabinet by saying he would authorise lethal force against terrorists if it was “proportionate and strictly necessary”.
The Opposition leader stressed there were “clear dangers to us all in any kind of shoot-to-kill policy” on the streets of Britain. But, in a report to Labour’s ruling NEC, he said he supported whatever actions were “required to save life in response to attacks of the kind we saw in Paris”.
In a series of interviews, Mr Corbyn questioned the legality of the US drone strike which killed Mohammed Emwazi – known as Jihadi John – ruled out a free vote on extending RAF air strikes against Islamic State (IS) into Syria, and warned that a “shoot-to-kill” policy could be “counter-productive”.
A number of MPs vented their anger at his position during a stormy meeting of the parliamentary party last night, before shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn finally made publicly clear that Mr Corbyn had not been setting out Labour policy.
“I can’t answer for Jeremy,” he told BBC Radio. “All I can say is what is the position of the party. There are procedures – it has got to be reasonable, it has got to be proportionate. But you have got to protect human life.