Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn paid a flying visit to Norfolk on Saturday night when he arrived to address a trades union gathering near King’s Lynn.
Mr Corbyn came by train from London to Lynn with his wife Laura and immediately said his journey had shown how desperately rail services in this area needed investment.
Saying that the King’s Lynn line passed through his Islington constituency at Finsbury Park, he said: “I am very interested in railways and I know it is frequently overcrowded on this line. This journey was an example what needs to be done to make it better. They all pile on at Cambridge and it was absolutely packed. It is ridiculous. It is a crucial artery for people’s lives and indeed the same is true of Norwich. ‘Norwich 90’ is a possibility and something I will make a priority.”
The visit to Norfolk came after a tumultuous week for the opposition leader. On Wednesday there were major splits in his party as Labour MPs voted for and against his opposition to bombing Syria. But the following day, Labour won an unexpectedly handsome victory in the Oldham East by-election, easily holding the seat with an 11,000 majority.
Asked if he was feeling the pressure, he said: “I’ve had a great week. I don’t know if I was surprised by the size of the Oldham victory but I was very confident. A young member of my team had told me what was going to happen and he was spot on!”
Mr Corbyn revealed that he was a big fan of King’s Lynn. He said he and his wife came up last year for a break. “It is a very nice town and I am looking forward to coming back again soon.”
Mr Corbyn was met by Labour’s parliamentary candidate at the last General Election, Jo Rust. She presented him with a railway poster of King’s Lynn.
He was coming for a Christmas gathering of members of the GMB union at Middleton, something he agreed to do having come to the Burston Strike Rally, near Diss, in September. He was bearing gifts for Dave Dennis, branch secretary of GMB No1 branch, who had organised the event: “I have a bottle of House of Commons wine but I know Dave is, like me, a big fan of railways so I found today a very nice book on steam railways.”
The Labour leader was delivered back at Lynn within three hours to catch the train back to London.
Ms Rust said that Mr Corbyn received a warm welcome at the GMB gathering, which was also attended by union general secretary Tim Roach, former general secretary Paul Kenny and former Norwich North MP Ian Gibson.
Ms Rust said: “He spoke about the amazing work trade unions do in creating a caring and sharing society.
“Dave was overwhelmed with his presents, as I knew he would be, and blown away by the thoughtfulness of Jeremy when he is working so hard.”