10 December 2019 20:34
Get the biggest Daily stories by email Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Could not subscribe, try again later Invalid Email Jon Ashworth has said he has been made to look 'right plonker' after a Tory friend leaked a conversation in which the shadow health secretary criticised Jeremy Corbyn and dismissed the Labour Party's chances of winning Thursday's election. The Leicester South candidate went on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on the BBC this morning minutes after Guido Fawkes published a recording of a discussion Mr Ashworth said he had with his Conservative friend Greig Baker. He had intended to use the interview to condemn the Tories' running of the NHS but ended up trying to explain why he suggested Mr Corbyn was a security risk and why Labour had been getting a 'dire' response in some constituencies. He was also recorded saying some people in the Labour Party 'went too soon' in trying to dislodge Mr Corbyn as leader in 2016. Mr Ashworth told Ms Derbyshire: "I was having a bit of banter with a Tory friend of mine – at least I thought he was a friend – a Tory activist called Greig Baker.
"He was saying 'oh the Tories are going to lose and I was saying ' no you're going to be fine.' "You know, it was joshing as old friends do. He's only gone and leaked it all to a website. "He's selectively leaked it. "And I thought he was a friend, Greig Baker, but obviously he is not." When asked if it was really his view that Labour were getting a dire reception, Mr Ashworth said: "No, no because he is saying to me 'the Tories are head office are narrowing, you are going to win' "It's a bit of joshing. "I'm saying to him 'don't worry' because he's an activist. "It's a bit like when you're saying to your mate who is a fan of a rival football team and you're trying to unnecessarily boost their ego. "And of course he has now leaked it all." Mr Ashworth said he had considered Mr Baker a friend and had holidayed with him in the US some 15 years ago. Ashworth 'saddened' by leak Mr Ashworth said: "It's joshing around and he's leaked it. I can't believe it. We're supposed to be mates – winding each other up and teasing each other. "At one point I call him a nervous nellie. "Obviously I'm not going to go for a drink with him again." He said he did not mean what he said to Mr Baker and was 'winding a mate up'. He added: "Of course I said it but I'm winding him up, joshing with him, it's banter. "I'm just saddened that a friend I spent three weeks with going round America with about 15 years ago has done that. "If you leak it to Guido Fawkes of course it makes me look like a right plonker. I'm winding up a friend trying to pull his leg a bit as it were. "He is saying stuff to me like 'why don't you get rid of him?'" 'We always have a bit of banter' The presenter asked him if he thought Mr Corbyn was a threat to National security. He replied: "Of course I don't" "I'm joshing around with somebody I though was an old friend who has now leaked it to Guido Fawkes. "He's a Tory and we have always had a bit of banter. "He obviously is in a panic because he thinks the Labour Party is going to win which is why he's leaked our jokey conversation. "It's a shame when a friend does that to you." He went on to say Labour would win the election to safeguard the NHS from Tory cuts - but subsequently dropped out of an interview on Radio 5 live with Emma Barnett.