JEREMY CORBYN visited the Heugh Battery Museum in Hartlepool yesterday to launch Labour’s five pledges to support the Armed Forces but faced a fusillade of questions about the party’s poor performance in the region in the recent elections.

In a miserable May in its Tees Valley heartland, Labour lost overall control of four of the five councils, plus it lost the mayor of Middlesbrough and it lost one of its North-East MEPs to the Brexit Party.

On the day that even Mr Corbyn’s close ally, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, expressed concerns about the party’s Brexit strategy, Mr Corbyn himself sounded as convinced as ever about the new for a second vote.

“We will do everything we can to block no-deal Brexit in Parliament,” he said. “We propose a customs union and trading relationship, protecting consumer and environment rights, and any deal agreed by Parliament should be put to the public for a choice between that agreement or remain.”

In Hartlepool, nearly 70 per cent in the 2016 referendum voted to leave the EU, but Mr Corbyn said the no-deal Brexit proposed by both candidates for the Conservative leadership would be “catastrophic” for the North-East economy, particularly for the chemical, steel, car and food processing industries.

“Leaving with no-deal means a loss of markets for those industries that are so strong and powerful in the North-East,” he said. “The North-East is the only area of the UK where there is a manufacturing surplus, so the consequences for jobs will be huge.”

He agreed Labour needed to get its Brexit message across better to win back lost voters, and also it needed to underline its traditional stance on social justice.

“Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are competing with each other on the size of tax cuts they will give to the richest people,” he said. “Our proposals will be in the opposite direction: fair taxation to pay for improved local government, health and education services.”

He spoke of the need to power up the north through transport improvements and a locally-administered investment bank which would promote the green economy.

Standing near the spot where on December 16, 1914, a shell fired from a German battleship killed the first British soldiers – members of the Durham Light Infantry – on home soil for 200 years, Mr Corbyn met military veterans and launched five pledges concerning forces’ pay, housing and support.

He heard veterans’ difficulties in transitioning from service life into civvy street, with an east Durham services’ charity worker saying he had handled two suicides of former servicemen in the last two years.

Among the veterans was Richard Lee, whose daughter Katrice disappeared on her second birthday in 1981 from Paderborn, a British Army base in Germany. He believes his daughter was abducted, and he has been helped by Hartlepool MP Mick Hill to keep the case in the headlines.

Mr Lee said: “I’m pleased Mr Corbyn didn’t just nod his head and it go in one ear and out the other. He listened and I was heard, and that makes a big difference to a person in my situation.”