By Lamiat Sabin
Jeremy Corbyn offered Leave voters in Labour heartlands a vision of a transformed Britain as speculation of an imminent snap general election was heightened due to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s obduracy. The Labour leader spoke in Salford to lay out the party’s plans for investment in left-behind areas while pledging to block a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Johnson, in a podium speech outside No 10, pledged to leave the EU by October 31 and urged MPs to vote against any delay to Brexit, adding: “Let’s get on without an election.” Mr Corbyn also held a shadow cabinet meeting in Salford to plan Labour’s next steps.
In a speech before the meeting convened he said areas that voted Leave have suffered from decades of underinvestment. He said Britain “needs” a general election as it “would give the people a choice between two very different directions for the country.” He affirmed that Labour has a “serious and practical plan” to “power up the north” with an investment “blitz” of billions in public money.
When asked in a Q&A session how he would convince Leave voters in the north of England and elsewhere not to abandon Labour, he said the party would “spread wealth” and not “hoard power” as the PM has done in proroguing Parliament. He said many Leave voters had seen no investment in their areas for “20 or 30 years” and have had secure jobs replaced by “fly-by-night economics, zero-hours contracts and insecurity.” He said Britain has the worst regional inequality in Europe and detailed the damage he said a no-deal Brexit could cause.
Mr Corbyn said people who voted Leave had “many, many reasons” for doing so, but said that “nobody wanted to lose their rights, lose their job or see a sweetheart trade deal set up with the United States.” Noting that almost 30,000 people are employed in car production in Solihull, Coventry and Birmingham, he warned that a no-deal Brexit could “tear the heart out of the West Midlands.” He said that in Yorkshire and the Humber, where 10,000 people are employed in the steel industry, no-deal would mean “no steel.” And he said that in the east of England, which has the country’s largest agricultural sector employing more than 30,000 people, no-deal would be “catastrophic.”
Labour’s plan for a seven-fold increase in offshore wind energy will bring around 30,000 jobs to Norfolk, the Humber and the north-east, he said. And he claimed that retrofitting of houses for better energy efficiency will create more than 14,000 jobs in the West Midlands and the north.
Labour’s £250 billion national transformation fund for infrastructure will be based in the north of England while a national investment bank will be set up to offer a further £250bn of capital for emerging businesses and co-operatives. He compared the fund to Mr Johnson’s £3.6bn Stronger Towns Fund for infrastructure capital spending — 70 times smaller than Labour’s cash pledge.
Courtesy: Morning Star