When Jeremy Corbyn arrived to deliver his foreign policy speech at Chatham House earlier today, there was a notable absentee. The Labour leader was accompanied by shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor and shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti. But shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith was nowhere to be seen – despite Corbyn roaming across her brief.
After reports that Griffith had not been invited, Corbyn’s team insisted this was not the case and that she had been involved in the drafting of the speech. But I now understand that Griffith was certainly not invited and did not contribute to the speech. The shadow defence secretary and Llanelli MP saw Corbyn’s address for the first time at 11pm last night, five hours after it was sent to journalists and an hour before the media embargo ended.
Corbyn and Griffith clashed over Labour’s manifesto earlier this week, with the latter successfully arguing for the removal of a passage warning against the use of Trident. The original text read: “Any prime minister should be extremely cautious about ordering the use of weapons of mass destruction which would result in the indiscriminate killing of millions of innocent civilians”.
Though Labour’s manifesto is committed to Trident renewal, Corbyn refused to say that he would use nuclear weapons when pressed by journalists. He also refused to rule out downgrading the system from four submarines as part of his planned Strategic Defence Review.