Jeremy Corbyn has insisted the government’s economic response to the coronavirus pandemic proves he was “absolutely right” on public spending at the general election.

With just a week remaining until he steps aside as Labour leader – after nearly five years in the role – Mr Corbyn also said the country had been “ill-prepared” for covid-19 due to a decade of austerity measures and underfunding of the NHS.

His intervention follows an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies which suggests government borrowing could reach triple what was predicted in the Budget just two weeks’ ago, as ministers set aside a quarter of a trillion pounds to deal with the crisis.

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Speaking to the BBC, Mr Corbyn said he did “everything” to win both the 2017 and 2019 snap elections, and to “say to the people of this country the only way our society can come together, is if we’re prepared to invest”.

He continued: “I was denounced as somebody that wanted to spend more money than we possibly could afford, in order to right the social wrongs of this country.

"I didn’t think that it would take only three months for me to be proved absolutely right by the amount of money the government is now prepared to put in, and parliament has just voted through, to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

“So this is a change in our politics which the coronavirus has actually meant, in every country in the world there’s suddenly a realisation that we’re only as healthy as the safety of our neighbour.”

The Labour leader also said he was “desperately sad” the party lost the 2019 December election and admitted he had made mistakes. “Of course,” he added. “I’m a human. Of course I’ve made mistakes.

“You give faith in people that don’t necessarily return it too well, and you sometimes make judgement mistakes. We all do.”

Next weekend, Labour will unveil its new leader, with Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy all vying to replace Mr Corbyn and take the party into the 2024 general election.

The Liberal Democrats, however, announced on Thursday evening they had postponed their leadership campaign until 2021 so the party can focus its full attention on the “fallout” from covid-19.

The opposition party had been due to start the process for replacing Jo Swinson, who was forced to step down as leader after losing her seat at the December general election, in May and announce a successor in July.

But announcing the suspension of the leadership contest, Lib Dem president Mark Pack said the country is going through its “biggest crisis since 1945”, adding: “Our party has decided that we must put all our attention into dealing with fallout from coronavirus.

“Our party has decided that we must put all our attention into dealing with fallout from coronavirus.

"The Liberal Democrats have always put the national interest first and I am proud of the role we have played in championing NHS and care workers, as well as sticking up for the self-employed. We will continue to scrutinise government policy and fight for the most vulnerable in our society."

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