'No way' Jeremy Corbyn should ever be UK prime minister, top Tory says

A prominent member of British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative government launched a blistering attack on Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, during debate on a motion of no confidence in May's government Wednesday.

"[Corbyn] wants to leave NATO," said Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. "He wants to get rid of our nuclear deterrent. And recently in a speech, he said, ‘Why do countries boast about the size of their armies? That is quite wrong. Why don’t we emulate Costa Rica, that has no army at all?’

"No allies, no deterrent, no army, no way can this country ever allow that man to be our prime minister," roared Gove, jabbing his finger across the despatch boxes at Corbyn as his fellow Conservatives sounded their approval.

Gove then brought up pictures published in a British newspaper last summer that showed Corbyn laying a wreath at a ceremony near the graves of members of the Palestinian terror group Black September, which perpetrated the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

"He says he was present, but not involved," Gove said of Corbyn. "Present, but not involved sums him up when it comes to national security."

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Corbyn had called for the confidence vote after the House of Commons overwhelmingly rejected May's Brexit deal with the European Union, saying the government should "do the right thing and resign."

He added that "if a government cannot get its legislation through Parliament, it must go to the country for a new mandate."

Gove noted that Corbyn voted in December 2015 against launching airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, an action that 66 Labour members supported. He also referenced Corbyn's refusal to condemn Russia for last year's nerve agent attack in the English city of Salisbury that critically injured a former Russian spy and his daughter. As he talked, other members of the government -- most notably Home Secretary Sajid Javid -- hissed "shameful" in Corbyn's direction.

"In fighting fascism," Gove said, "he was present, but not involved."

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Under Corbyn's leadership, the Labour Party has been beset by increasing allegations of anti-Semitism, a record May referenced earlier in the no-confidence debate.

"Before [Corbyn] became Labour leader nobody could have imagined that a party which had fought so hard against discrimination could become the banner under which racists and bigots whose worldview is dominated by a hatred of Jews would gather, but that is exactly what has happened," she said. " ... British Jewish families who have lived here for generations are asking themselves where they should go if he ever becomes prime minister. That is what has happened under the leadership of the right honorable gentleman."

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"What he’s done to his party is a national tragedy," May added. "What he would do to our country would be a national calamity."

May's government narrowly survived the no-confidence motion by just 19 votes, avoiding a defeat that could have led to Great Britain's third general election in fewer than four years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.