Jeremy Corbyn back in Telford for Labour Women's Conference
Jeremy Corbyn called on the nine MPs who quit his party this week to "do the decent thing" and call by-elections during a visit to Telford.
The Labour leader was on home territory to give a speech at the Labour Women’s Conference on Saturday.
He spoke after a week which has seen nine Labour MPs quit the party amid anger over its position on Europe and anti-Semitism within its ranks.
WATCH Jeremy Corbyn speak in Telford:
Eight of the MPs have defected to the new Independent Group, along with three former Conservatives, while Dudley North MP Ian Austin has quit to stand as an independent.
"It's been a very interesting week indeed," Mr Corbyn told the crowd at Telford International Centre.
"Over the last few years Labour's membership has grown dramatically and set our party on a new course. I understand why that might be difficult for people.
"We're also open for discussion and debate - that is the lifeblood of democratic politics and absolutely what we exist for.
"So I'm very disappointed that a small number of MPs have decided to leave our party and join forces with a small group of disaffected Tories.
"Many people voted for them because of the Labour manifesto. I think they should do the decent thing and put themselves up for election."
Wonderful to come home
Mr Corbyn was greeted by supporters chanting his name and sporting Jeremy Corbyn t-shirts as he arrived at the International Centre on Saturday afternoon.
Around 1,000 women were at the two-day event - the first standalone women's conference in more than 20 years.
"It's wonderful to come home to Telford," Mr Corbyn said.
"This is an area I grew up in where I first became involved in the Labour party and in politics through the Wrekin Young Socialists where we made a complete nuisance of ourselves and placed a red flag on the top of the Wrekin when we won the constituency.
"We also organised a hunger strike outside the tax offices to protest against the 1971 Immigration Act. So I have a very strong affection for Telford."
Mr Corbyn posed for selfies after travelling from Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire, the constituency of Tory defector Anna Soubry, where he spoke at a rally earlier in the day.
Jess Eastoe, from Leigh, managed to get a photograph with Mr Corbyn.
She said: "I've met him before but didn't think he would have time to take a selfie with me. He's so nice and is a real man of the people.
"It's great that he's come to the conference as it's a good opportunity to unite the party after recent events and really encourage women to get into politics which is so important."
Sisters Keri-Lynne Kraster and Le-an Mahoney travelled from Scunthorpe.
"This is the first time I've ever been to a conference," Keri said. "Jeremy is a great speaker and he's so inspiring. I was not a Labour party member until he became leader. I really think he can change things in the future for the better and I want to see him in Number 10."
The conference also heard from Dawn Butler, shadow secretary of state for women and equalities, who announced a new policy regarding flexible working hours.
Mrs Butler's speech focused on rights for women in the workplace.
She said: "The next Labour government will give all workers a right to flexible working from day one.
"This change of law is essential to closing the gender pay gap and dismantling the barriers that hold women back from promotion and progression."
Mrs Butler said flexible working would boost the UK economy by £148 billion.
Mr Corbyn added: "We need to change the world of work so that women are not losing out before they even begin.
"I want it to be just as common to see women has engineers or construction work."