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Any Labour leader but Corbyn could crush Conservatives, says Osborne

Former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, was speaking at Jewish Care’s business breakfast

    George Osborne, right, in conversation with James Harding (Photo: Justin Grange)
    George Osborne, right, in conversation with James Harding (Photo: Justin Grange)

    George Osborne told a Jewish Care breakfast that Labour would “be crushing” the Conservatives in the polls if anyone but Jeremy Corbyn was the party’s leader.

    Mr Osborne, the former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, was one of two guest speakers at the charity’s business breakfast at Claridge’s hotel in central London on Monday morning.

    In an interview with James Harding, the former director of BBC News, the Evening Standard editor declared Mr Corbyn “the worst possible Labour leader”, adding that he thought he would be “a terrible Prime Minister”.

    The breakfast's two speakers, George Osborne, left, and Vernon Hill (Photo: Justin Grange)
    The breakfast's two speakers, George Osborne, left, and Vernon Hill (Photo: Justin Grange)

    Mr Osborne said: “If (Labour) had another leader they would be crushing the Conservatives. It’s only because people have reservations about Jeremy Corbyn that we’re (the Conservative Party) still in with a chance.”

    He also criticised the Conservatives’ “audacious play” in last year’s general election for “constituencies we had never held before” at the expense of traditional urban seats, such as Kensington and Oxford.

    He said: “If you set your face against metropolitan England, don’t be surprised when metropolitan England has reservations about you.”

    (L-R): Simon Morris, Jewish Care chief executive; James Harding, former BBC News director; speakers George Osborne and Vernon Hill; Stephen Zimmerman, Jewish Care honorary president; and Lord Leigh, Business Breakfast Group chair (Photo: Justin Grange)
    (L-R): Simon Morris, Jewish Care chief executive; James Harding, former BBC News director; speakers George Osborne and Vernon Hill; Stephen Zimmerman, Jewish Care honorary president; and Lord Leigh, Business Breakfast Group chair (Photo: Justin Grange)

    Lord Leigh, the chair of the Business Breakfast Group, told the 200 guests that Monday’s event fell on the 25th anniversary of Jewish Care’s first breakfast, for which the guest speaker was then Evening Standard editor Stewart Steven.

    As the morning’s second speaker, Vernon Hill, the founder and chairman of Metro Bank, defended his support of US President Donald Trump, urging guests to “watch what he does, don’t listen to what he says”.

    Mr Harding quizzed the former Chancellor on Brexit, the economy and the Labour Party (Photo: Justin Grange)
    Mr Harding quizzed the former Chancellor on Brexit, the economy and the Labour Party (Photo: Justin Grange)

    He told Mr Harding: “At lunch we talked about moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. We passed a law in 1995 to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Every candidate running for president pledged to do it and not one of them did.

    “You see what Trump’s done? Believe me, for this group, if there’s war in the Middle East you can count on Trump coming to your defence. You certainly couldn’t count on Obama.”

    Mr Hill also told the audience about how he opened Metro Bank, the first new high street bank in the UK for more than 150 years.

    The diners raised £40,000 for Jewish Care.

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