Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited Middlesbrough yesterday evening after attending the funeral of Lord Foster of Bishop Auckland. With the sun setting behind the Bottle of Notes and seagulls circling above a building site next to the Town Hall, Chris Lloyd asked him a couple of questions…

How do you remember Derek Foster?

He was the chief whip when I was a Labour backbencher and being the sort of difficult backbencher that I was I probably had more meetings with him than anybody, but I liked him because he was respectful, thoughtful and principled, a deeply committed Christian in his approach to life and his dealings with people. He was absolutely committed to two things: his community and above all things young people and employment, and when he became chairman of the education select committee he was very effective in standing up for good quality apprenticeships and real opportunities for young people. He was a very decent man and I’m sorry he’s gone.

A Conservative mayor has nationalised an ailing airport – isn’t that a triumph for Labour’s policies?

I hope the money is spent wisely and the arrangements for the running of the airport are transparent and open and it does become a contributor to the local economy because at the moment it is not especially busy. Let’s see how it goes.

We are committed to bringing the Royal Mail, the water industry and train operating companies into public ownership. Andy Macdonald (the Middlesbrough MP and shadow transport secretary) is involved in all of that and in developing a much more rational transport policy which involves the integration of buses and train and much better rural bus services.

Cleveland Police is again in the headlines for the wrong reasons: how do you feel the Labour hierarchy has controlled the force?

Barry Coppinger (the Police and Crime Commissioner) set up a system of transparency and accountability. As soon as he realised there were problems with the chief constable, he called for his resignation and that happened, he has gone, and there will be a proven process and a great of diligence around that, but the real problem for the police force in Cleveland is the loss of 500 officers because of underfunding by a Conservative government.

As we approach Tuesday's vote on Theresa May’s which will define the nation’s future, what is the purpose of the amendment you have tabled?

The referendum gave us a decision and we said in our manifesto that we would respect that decision. Labour has put forward an alternative view (of our future relationship with the EU) which is of a customs union, market access and protection of consumer, environmental and workers’ rights, and I have included exactly what was concluded at last year’s party conference: to give the option of a public vote on any deal that is reached.

We have to recognise the result of the referendum but we do have half of our trade with Europe so we have to protect that and our priority is to ensure that the Government takes no-deal off the table otherwise jobs will be lost in manufacturing and associated industries cross the North-East – this is the only region which is a net exporter across the whole of the UK so manufacturing is very, very important to its future.

What question would that public vote ask?

The question would depend on the final deal and we are some way off that. It is the option for Parliament to take the second vote up, that’s why we’ve included it in the amendment – but the priority is to get no deal off the table.

Yvette Cooper has tabled an amendment to extend Article 50 and delay Brexit. Do you support that?

I had a very good meeting with Yvette and went through her proposals, which are essentially to force the Government to come back with a specific proposal within a set space of time, and if it doesn’t we would consider extending Article 50. We haven’t finally decided how we are going to vote on her amendment. I understand where she is coming from, she’s trying to ensure we protect our economic infrastructure and jobs.

This Government could have taken the vote on December 11. They have wasted a month and then lost to the greatest defeat any government has ever suffered. In any other country, the government would be out of office. In the past in this country without the Fixed Term Parliament Act, this government would have been out of office.

In the Tees Valley, traditional Labour heartlands voted 68 per cent to leave, yet the only voices making an unequivocal case for leaving here are Conservative. You are visiting Middlesbrough to promote the Labour candidate in May’s local mayoral election, but why should leavers vote for your party when its local MPs seem ambivalent about leaving?

End austerity, invest in infrastructure, invest in jobs, invest in housing, invest in people, give people hope and have a relationship with Europe that protects jobs, gives us the trade, and protects rights – that’s the Labour offer: a more open, more democratic and fairer society.

However you voted in the referendum of 2016, you still need an economy which invests for the future, you still need an end to the fee levels at university, you need to invest in apprenticeships, in housing. However you voted in 2016, Labour has something for you.