Clive Lewis has said he would have been "more comfortable" singing the Red Flag at Labour's party conference this year, rather than the national anthem.

The MP for Norwich South said he understood the reasons why the event, being held in Liverpool, had opened with Sir Keir Starmer leading delegates in a rendition of God Save the King.

However, he said it would not have been his preference.

“I’m probably more comfortable singing the Red Flag," he said.

"In fact I’m definitely more comfortable singing the Red Flag. But do you know what, it took place and it went off without any problems.”

The Red Flag is a traditional socialist anthem which has been sung at most Labour conferences.

Mr Lewis, who is a republican, had raised concerns during the period of national mourning for the Queen about a number of arrests of anti-monarchy protesters.

He had warned: "Whether you support monarchy or not, a functioning democracy needs institutions that can be trusted to uphold the fundamental rights of the public.”

Mr Lewis stressed however that he understood why the anthem was used to open Labour’s conference, and that he did not see a conflict between singing it and holding republican beliefs.

“It’s clearly a moment for the party, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

“I think you can be a republican and sing the national anthem, because you understand that the words are about the current head of state, and that doesn’t mean that you don’t feel the same emotions, the same connectivity, with the people of this country.

“So for me, I think it’s all about sentiment and national anthems are about the sentiment of coming together, of people being one, and showing solidarity.

“And I think however that’s expressed, that’s a sentiment that I feel, and I don’t have an issue with that.”

Eastern Daily Press: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on the Wakefield by-election campaign trailLabour leader Sir Keir Starmer on the Wakefield by-election campaign trail (Image: PA)

He said Mr Starmer's speech had been "good".

"There was some real meat on the bone," he added.

“I think we’ve been a bit starved of policy and this was the first year we’d seen some substantial policy announcements.

“I particularly like the look and the sound of the [nationally-owned Great British] energy company.

“I’d like to see the detail, but I think on the surface, it’s a very smart way of being able to get a publicly-owned company at the forefront of renewables.”

He added that he was also encouraged by conference members showing support for the introduction of a proportional voting system at general elections, and said it now needed to be taken up as party policy.

Candidate hopes party is on course for victory

In neighbouring Norwich North, Labour candidate Alice Macdonald said Mr Starmer’s speech was “exactly what the party needed to hear, but more importantly what the country needed to hear”.

Eastern Daily Press: Alice Macdonald, Labour candidate for Norwich North at the next general electionAlice Macdonald, Labour candidate for Norwich North at the next general election (Image: Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service)

She added: “If you look at some of the specifics for Norwich North and East Anglia, it’s investment in renewable energy, which will make a huge difference - and proper plans to tackle the cost of living, which won’t be paid for by working people, it will be paid for by taxes on energy companies.”

Ms Macdonald hopes to capture the constituency from work and pensions secretary Chloe Smith at the next general election.

She said that recent poll leads for the party - including a recent 17-point lead over the Conservatives recorded by YouGov - shows that the party “is a credible, serious party of government and people are looking to us for answers that they’re not getting from the Conservatives”.