JEREMY Corbyn is a security risk, according to Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth.

The frontbencher has claimed the comments, made in private to a Tory friend, which were recorded and leaked to the Guido Fawkes website, were just “banter”.

But they have been pounced upon by the Tories as proof that even Corbyn’s closest allies don’t trust him.

On the recording, Ashworth said he thought the civil service machine would "pretty quickly move to safeguard security" if Corbyn entered Number 10.

He says: “I don’t know, on the security stuff; I worked in No 10, I think the machine will pretty quickly move to safeguard security, I mean the civil service machine. But it’s not going to happen! I can’t see it happening.”

He said the election campaign was “dire for Labour” as a result of a “combination of Corbyn and Brexit” outside of city seats, and told the friend that he “can’t see it happening”.

Referencing the unsuccessful plot to oust Corbyn, Ashworth says: “We f***ed it up in 2016 when we went too early. People like me were internally saying: ‘This isn’t the right moment,’ but I got kind of ignored. But I don’t think we’re going to get there; In Mansfield, in Ashfield, it’s dire for the Labour party up there, these traditional working areas.”

Pressed then on what would happen to Corbyn if the Tories won the election outright, Ashworth said: “That’s the thing that’s on our minds … I think things can change quickly; I think things change more quickly anyway now.”

Appearing on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show minutes after the recording was published, he insisted he did not mean what he said, telling the show: "We're having banter with each other – we're joking around.

"No I don't mean it because I'm joking around with my mate because he's a Tory ... If you leak it to Guido Fawkes of course it makes me look like a right plonker but it's not what I mean when I'm winding up a friend – I'm trying to sort of pull his leg a bit."

Tory Party chairman James Cleverly said the remarks were an "honest and truly devastating assessment" of Corbyn's leadership "by one of his most trusted election lieutenants".