Labour declares class war: Jeremy Corbyn says he would hold a second referendum and delay Brexit for at least SIX MONTHS as he launches election battle by targeting ‘vested interests’ and pledging tax hikes for the rich
- Jeremy Corbyn is launching the Labour Party’s general election campaign
- Admitted Brexit would be delayed for new referendum and possible cancelled
- In a firebrand speech Mr Corbyn vowed to target ‘vested interests’ of the elite
- Delivered anti-elite message attacking individuals such as Duke of Westminster
- Corbyn singled out chemicals executive Sir James Ratcliffe as a ‘big polluter’
- Jewish Labour groups have condemned Mr Corbyn as not fit to be the PM
Jeremy Corbyn today admitted he would delay Brexit for at least six months to hold a second referendum – and refused to rule out backing Remain.
Launching Labour’s election campaign, the veteran left-winger said if he becomes PM he will renegotiate a ‘sensible deal’ with the EU, before putting it to the public.
However, he refused to say whether he would support staying in the EU rather than his own new package in that vote.
Mr Corbyn also tried to brush off concerns about his dire personal ratings, saying: ‘It’s not about me.’
The flannelling came as Mr Corbyn effectively declared class war by vowing to tackle ‘corrupt’ business and ramp up public spending.
The Labour leader laid out a platform of tax hikes for the better-off and nationalisation of key industries in his first keynote speech of the contest.
He contrasted his union-backed party with the Tories who represented the ‘super-rich’, saying only the Left would take on the establishment’s ‘vested interests’.
An Ipsos Mori poll today gave the Tories a 17-point advantage over Labour – more than enough for a working majority. YouGov research suggested the Conservatives are 15 points ahead – but underlined the way the electorate is fragmenting, with the Lib Dems and Brexit Party showing significant support.
In a further blow, two Jewish Labour groups have announced they will not back Mr Corbyn as PM after his hard-Left supporters brought a vile wave of anti-Semitism to the party.
Other MPs are also agonising over whether they can endorse him as a fit person to be in Downing Street.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is facing an exodus of moderate MPs. Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan cited the ‘abuse’ she had received in the fraught Westminster environment as she became the latest high profile figure to stand down at the election.
Jeremy Corbyn was momentarily swept up in the excitement of his launch today – and kissed the hand of shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, who appeared somewhat nonplussed
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured giving his speech today) is vowing to tackle the ‘corrupt system’ of tax dodgers and bad bosses
The Labour leader chose to do his campaign launch in Battersea in south-west London
Mr Corbyn (pictured with shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, left, and Baroness Chakrabarti, right) said he would hold a second Brexit referendum within six months
After previously pledging that he would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than extend Brexit beyond October 31, Mr Johnson said today that it was Mr Corbyn’s fault the UK’s withdrawal from the EU had been put back until January 31.
What did Corbyn promise in his speech?
Negotiate a new Brexit deal and hold a second referendum next June – leaving open the possibility of backing Remain
Living wage of at least £10 an hour for all workers from the age of 16
Thirty hours’ free childcare for children up yo four years old
Scrap Universal Credit scheme that combined other benefits
Bring rail firms, mail and water fully into public ownership
‘Today should have been the day that Brexit was delivered and we finally left the EU,’ he said.
‘But, despite the great new deal I agreed with the EU, Jeremy Corbyn refused to allow that to happen – insisting upon more dither, more delay and more uncertainty for families and business.’
However, Mr Corbyn said: ‘We need to take it out of the hands of the politicians and trust the people to have the final say.
‘Labour will get Brexit sorted within six months. We’ll let the people decide whether to leave with a sensible deal or remain. That really isn’t complicated.
‘We will carry out whatever the people decide so that we can get on with delivering the real change Britain needs after years of Conservative cuts to vital services and tax handouts to the richest.’
Even that timetable looks optimistic, as Mr Corbyn is proposing to negotiate a new deal with the EU before then, which Labour might then advise the public to reject in favour of Remaining.
Unveiling a highly personalised anti-elite message, Mr Corbyn attacked the Duke of Westminster, 28 – a godfather to Prince George – for being a ‘dodgy landlord’.
Jewish Labour groups say Corbyn is NOT fit to be PM amid anti-Semitism crisis
The Jewish Labour Movement will not campaign for Labour during the general election because of Jeremy Corbyn‘s handling of the party’s anti-Semitism crisis.
It is the first time in the organisation’s 100-year affiliation with the Labour Party that it will not actively campaign for a Labour government.
The group said it will ‘not be campaigning unless in exceptional circumstances and for exceptional candidates… who’ve been unwavering in their support of us’.
The JLM said in a statement that since Mr Corbyn became leader of the party in 2015 ‘a culture of antisemitism has been allowed to emerge and fester… at all levels’ and as a result it will not support his bid for power.
Meanwhile, the Labour Against Anti-Semitism campaign group said it would be telling voters that ‘Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to be prime minister’ and it would be advocating an ‘ABC’ approach: ‘Anyone but Corbyn’.
The Labour Party has been repeatedly rocked by allegations of anti-Semitism since Mr Corbyn became leader and he has faced fierce criticism for his handling of the crisis.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission opened a formal investigation earlier this year into anti-Semitism in the Labour. The watchdog is yet to report and has not set a date for publishing its findings.
He singled out billionaire chemicals executive Sir James Ratcliffe as a ‘big polluter’ and hedge fund boss Crispin Odey as a ‘greedy banker’.
And he accused Mike Ashley, the Sports Direct chief executive, of exploiting his workforce.
But Tory MPs warned that Labour was simply going after people who create jobs.
Hammering home his anti-elite message, Mr Corbyn said that ‘real change is coming’.
‘This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country, take on the vested interests holding people back and ensure that no community is left behind,’ he said.
‘When Labour wins, the nurse wins, the pensioner wins, the student wins, the office worker wins, the engineer wins. We all win.’
Mr Corbyn said Labour puts its faith in the ‘spirit and commitment to community’ of the British people, adding ‘it is your country’, not the property of ‘born-to-rule Conservatives’ who ‘protect the privileged few’.
He claimed the elite are scared of the British people, which is why ‘they’ll throw everything at us’ in this election ‘because they know we’re not afraid to take them on’.
Shrugging off concerns about a winter election, Mr Corbyn said: ‘Labour will be out there in every city, town and village… bringing a message of hope and change to every community. Even if the rivers freeze over, we’re going out to offer real change for the many, not the few.’
He added: ‘Boris Johnson thought he was being smart holding this election in a dark and cold December. He thinks you won’t go out to vote. He thinks you won’t go out to campaign.
‘All we need to keep us warm is the thought of removing Boris Johnson’s Conservatives from government and the chance to rebuild and transform our country.’
Both Mr Corbyn and Boris Johnson (pictured today) are facing massive challenges to get their message across
Alongside Mrs Morgan, Theresa May’s former deputy David Lidington, Amber Rudd and minister Mimms Davies have announced they are leaving the Commons, with MPs voicing fears that the One Nation wing of the Tories is evaporating.
Corbyn says he ‘keeps in touch’ with Sturgeon
Jeremy Corbyn today admitted he keeps in regular contact with Nicola Sturgeon – amid claims he is prepared to back another independence referendum if the SNP prop him up in power.
The Labour leader said he last spoke to Ms Sturgeon 10 days ago, insisting as leaders they had to keep in touch.
The comment came after shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald sparked a furious row by insisting Labour ‘will not stand in the way’ of a second Scottish independence referendum.
The Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, came under fire over a bid to demolish five buildings in Westminster and replace them with new shops and homes.
In 2016, MPs on the business, innovation and skills select committee accused Mr Ashley of running Sports Direct like a ‘Victorian workhouse’. The company said it would address ‘any shortcomings’.
Sir James’s firm Ineos has been accused of contributing to plastic pollution of the oceans and has launched a campaign to turn the tide.
Hedge fund manager Mr Odey has been accused of profiting from the Brexit vote and the 2017 hung parliament by speculating on the value of the pound.