After the Labour leader signed a letter calling for a ban on prayer vigils outside abortion clinics

The Bishop of Portsmouth has called for Catholics to pray for the conversion of Jeremy Corbyn and other MPs after they signed a letter demanding a ban on prayer vigils outside abortion clinics.

A total of 113 MPs signed the letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, which was published on the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act. It accused pro-lifers of harassing women outside abortion clinics, something organisers strongly deny.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was one of the most prominent MPs to put their name to the letter, along with Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable.

However, Bishop Philip Egan described the letter as “folly” and accused signatories of trying to restrict free speech.

He wrote on Twitter:

Jeremy Corbyn previously caused controversy in September when he reportedly received Communion at a Catholic funeral, despite not being Catholic himself.

Clare Bowskill of the Latin Mass Society said Catholics would see the act as “disrespecting the faith quite considerably”, although the Labour Party refused to comment on whether he actually took Communion.

The Labour leader has in the past refused to comment on his religious beliefs. When asked in 2015 whether he was an atheist, he responded: “There are so many things about me written that are unfair, unjust and ill-searched that it would be wrong. I’m not going any further than that, belief is a private thing.”