Jeremy Corbyn has angrily questioned the neutrality of the civil service after officials reportedly told a newspaper he was “too frail” to become prime minister.
The Labour leader, 70, has described as a “farrago of nonsense”- claims on the front of The Times about his mental and physical health.
The paper quoted two “senior civil servants” – with one suggesting there are concerns in Whitehall that Mr Corbyn was “losing his memory”, was being “propped up” by his advisers and was “not in charge of his own party”.
Another was claimed to have said Mr Corbyn was “not functioning on all cylinders” – and that he was “too ill to carry on as leader of the Labour party, let alone become prime minister”.
Mr Corbyn described the claims as “tittle tattle from civil servants who either don’t know me or don’t understand me”.
He also called for an investigation to find out which mandarins are “spreading fictitious information to the press and in the process compromising the integrity of the civil service”.
Stressing that it must be an independent institution, he said: “The idea that civil servants should be briefing a newspaper against an elected politician, against a prospective government, is something that should be very concerning to a lot of people.”
He added that the civil service had to be “non-political” – and “non-judgmental of the politicians they have a duty to serve”.
“I would make that very clear if we were elected to government. We have a very clear framework of things we want to do in this country on housing, education, health and the environment, and so many things,” he said.
“We would explain those to our colleagues in the civil service and expect them to carry out those policies. That is the way British democracy must work.”
Labour also rejected the claims as a “scurrilous” attempt to thwart the party’s goals, insisting Mr Corbyn is “in good health”, leads an “active life” and that suggestions he does not make his own decisions were “laughable”.