By Lamiat Sabin
Jeremy Corbyn accused Boris Johnson of disdain for democracy and called on the Prime Minister to quit now after the Supreme Court ruled today that his attempt to suspend Parliament for five weeks was illegal.
The Labour leader’s speech at the Brighton party conference scheduled for tomorrow was brought forward because of the court’s decision, with MPs due back in the Commons.
To warm applause — and with an election in mind — Mr Corbyn recapped many of the party policies announced over the past few days, but the biggest response was to his announcement that a Labour government would break the monopoly of big pharma companies by creating a publicly owned generic drugs manufacturer.
He recounted his meeting with nine-year-old Luis Walker yesterday who suffers from cystic fibrosis but is denied a specific drug that would improve his life because a pharma company refuses to sell it to the NHS at an affordable price.
Mr Corbyn said: “Luis, and tens of thousands of others suffering from illnesses like cystic fibrosis, hepatitis C and breast cancer, are being denied life-saving medicines by a system that puts profits for shareholders before people’s lives.”
In the immediate term, to make life-changing and life-saving drugs available on the NHS, Labour would use voluntary and compulsory licences to secure affordable generic versions of patented medicines where the patented product cannot be accessed, he said.
Global Justice Now campaigns manager Heidi Chow said the policy could be “the beginning of the end of Big Pharma’s stranglehold over our medicines.”
The policy is part of a package of proposals from Labour on healthcare that include making prescriptions free in England.
Mr Corbyn also pledged to take on “the financial speculators, tax dodgers and big polluters” and lead a government on the side of working people as he set out his stall for the expected election.
Labour delegates shouted “Boris out” as Mr Corbyn laid into Mr Johnson for “misleading the country” in proroguing Parliament and shutting down debate as the October 31 deadline to leave the European Union looms.
Mr Johnson earlier had insisted that, despite the Supreme Court ruling, he will press ahead with his plans for Brexit.
Mr Corbyn put the party on an election footing, looking to replace Tory austerity with policies that would create “a country fit for the next generation” but he added that an election should only take place once the risk of a no-deal Brexit had been ruled out.
He told delegates: “The Prime Minister acted illegally when he tried to shut down opposition to his reckless and disastrous plan to crash out of the European Union without a deal. But he has failed. He will never shut down our democracy or silence the voices of the people.”
He said the government will be “held to account for what it has done” when Parliament resumes. “Boris Johnson has been found to have misled the country. This unelected Prime Minister should now resign.
“That would make him the shortest serving British prime minister in history and rightly so.”
John Rees of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity said that the Supreme Court judgement should be “the final blow to [Mr Johnson’s] already enfeebled prime ministership.”
He said: “He was never elected to the job in a general election and is without a majority in the Commons. Boris Johnson’s attempt to evade parliamentary scrutiny has spectacularly hit the buffers.
“Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely right to insist on both the immediate recall of Parliament and for Johnson‘s resignation.
“Johnson has few options left. But one would be to reintroduce his motion for a general election.”
Prime Minister’s Questions will not take place tomorrow but the government is expected to table a motion that it hopes would pave the way for a short recess for the Conservative Party conference, which starts on Sunday. (IPA Service)
Courtesy: Morning Star