UK Politics

Corbyn: I'd abandon failed economic model

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright AFP

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been outlining his economic plans for a post-Brexit Britain, pledging to abandon a "failed" economic model.

Mr Corbyn, who has promised a £500bn investment programme, pledged to overhaul infrastructure and industrial strategy and "decarbonise our economy".

"There is an alternative to the drift and decay of the Tories, an economy that works for all," he said.

Mr Corbyn's critics in the party say he cannot win a general election.

He faces a leadership challenge from his former work and pensions spokesman Owen Smith, the result of which will be announced on 24 September.

'Unpardonable folly'

The speech at Bloomberg on Thursday followed another row in the party after a list of MPs accused of "abuse" towards Mr Corbyn and his allies was compiled by the leader's team and sent to the Press Association.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell' who chairs Mr Corbyn's leadership campaign, apologised for the release, saying it had been "inappropriate" and he hoped it did not set back attempts over the summer to rebuild relationships in the party.

In the speech, Mr Corbyn said the UK economy was "poised between two alternative futures" - one, offered by the Conservative government, "where the fast buck takes precedence", the other a "new, dynamic economy that breaks with the failures and injustice of the past".

The Labour leader said to continue cutting investment was "an act of unpardonable folly" and said June's referendum vote to leave the EU was actually a "decisive rejection" of austerity, "poverty pay", zero-hours contracts and a housing shortage.

He unveiled plans to create one million jobs through a £500bn investment programme in infrastructure, manufacturing and new industries in August - claiming it would be funded through "an expanding economy and driving down tax evasion".

On Thursday, he pledged to "overhaul and rebuild our infrastructure, right across the country" - including improving superfast broadband access to areas that have suffered under-investment and improving education - with a swipe at PM Theresa May's grammar school plans as "Tory tests and segregation at age 11".

Olive branches

While Labour would push for the UK to retain "full access to the European single market" in Brexit talks, he said other EU obligations, such as state aid rules should not be part of the UK's "post Brexit relationship" with the EU.

Procurement must be used by the government to help British industry - for example insisting high-quality British steel is used in infrastructure projects.

"We cannot be afraid of intervening directly to support supply chains and new industries, any deal with the EU must recognise that the old state aid rules are no longer valid," he said.

Among other policies outlined were increasing spending on scientific research - including doubling energy research with the intention of making Britain a "world leading renewables producer", strengthening workers' rights and tighten up rules about business takeovers.

Mr Corbyn has faced much criticism from his own MPs, having lost a confidence vote earlier in the summer. However, after the speech, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said there was no disunity over the economic direction the party had taken.

"We are all on the same page. There's no dispute at all with regard to the direction of economic policy. Over the last 12 months we have transformed that debate. We are an anti-austerity party, we are involved in long-term patient investment. We are trying to ensure that we work with businesses and trade unions and bring them together."

He said relationships had been rebuilt over the summer and almost all MPs had "swung behind Jeremy" when he attacked Mrs May over grammar schools.

The Labour leader also said he was growing an olive tree as part of efforts to rebuild relationships with Labour MPs.

"I'm very keen on providing olive branches and indeed a number of olive branches have been offered to me," he said.

"And as a practical start to this I am growing an olive branch, an olive tree in fact, on the balcony of my office. It has been growing very well, it's thriving."

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