Voters more concerned about NHS than Brexit, says Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has warned disillusioned Labour voters to consider the financial pressures endured by hospitals and schools over the last nine years before switching allegiance to Boris Johnson.

He delivered the plea for them to return to the fold as polls suggest that the Conservatives are on course to breach Mr Corbyn’s so-called “red wall” by capturing previously Labour-loyal seats across the North of England.

Breaking off from campaigning in the Midlands, the Labour leader said in an interview that the atmosphere on the stump was as positive as in 2017 when he defied predictions to deprive Theresa May of her majority.

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Jeremy Corbyn said the big issue on the doorstep was the NHS, not Brexit

In a message to wavering Labour voters, he said: “Think what the last nine years has done to your community and your society. Think of the stress and funding problems that you know about in every school, you know about in every hospital, in every GP’s practice.

“And think about the obvious vision you have of poor-quality housing in Britain and the ultimate disaster of street sleeping. And don’t you think it’s time we changed direction in this country and it’s a Labour government that will invest for the future for all of us.”

Although Mr Johnson intended the election campaign to focus on Brexit, the Labour leader said the National Health Service was the dominant topic on the doorstep.

“It’s the day-to-day experience of people that they all know somebody who has waited a long time at A&E, they can’t get a doctor’s appointment, they can’t get to A&E, they know somebody who has had to be fast-tracked on cancer because they weren’t diagnosed early enough and so on. Related to that, older people who can’t access the social care they need. But NHS comes up all the time.”

The Labour leader pointed to his reception when he spoke in Nottingham next to a statue of Robin Hood as evidence of the “great atmosphere” on the campaign trail.

“Hundreds and hundreds of people just kept coming – maybe just to see Robin Hood but I was speaking alongside him,” he said.

Mr Corbyn was speaking after meeting pupils at Bilton secondary school in Rugby where they discussed the mental health problems faced by young people. He said: “Sometimes they don’t feel there’s anywhere they can go and feel there’s a lot of stigma – boys tend to keep it all inside and be stoic about it, girls are more likely to talk about it, but that’s not to say they don’t suffer in the same way.”