A general election triggered by the Brexit crisis will provide a “once-in-a-generation chance” for a change of direction in politics, with Labour prepared to do “everything necessary” to prevent no-deal, Jeremy Corbyn has said.
The UK Labour leader used a speech in Northamptonshire on Monday to set out his vision to rebuild Britain.
He said a general election could lead to a change on the scale of 1945, warning that things “cannot go on as they were before”.
Speaking at the Pen Green Children’s Centre in Corby, Mr Corbyn said Britain faces even greater problems than crashing out of the EU, and that a Labour government would offer the “real change of direction the country needs”.
Mr Corbyn said: “Let’s be very clear – we will do everything necessary to stop a disastrous no-deal for which this government has no mandate”.
He added: “Labour believes the decision on how to solve the Brexit crisis must go back to the people. And if there is a general election this autumn, Labour will commit to holding a public vote to give voters the final say with credible options on both sides including the option to remain.
“Three years of Tory failure on Brexit have caused opinions to harden to such a degree that I believe no outcome will now have legitimacy without the people’s endorsement.”
Mr Corbyn said Brexit is the “framework” for many of the UK’s problems, but warned issues like inequality run “much, much deeper”.
He added: “A general election triggered by the Tory Brexit crisis will be a crossroads for our country. It will be a once-in-a-generation chance for a real change of direction potentially on the scale of 1945.
“Things cannot go on as they were before. The Conservatives and a very wealthy establishment that they so happily represent failed this country. They failed to protect living standards, they have savaged our public services.”
Mr Corbyn said he did not have a definite date for the general election, but said Labour is “ready for it”.
He went on to hit out at “fake populism and phoney outsiders funded by hedge funds and bankers” using Brexit to gain influence.
He said: “The Tories cannot be trusted to deliver on their quick-fix promises because their first priority, which has now been revealed, is tax cuts for the biggest corporations and richest people in this country.”
He added: “We are very clear that we are prepared to raise tax for the very richest and the biggest corporations in order to rebalance our economy and our society and reduce the levels of inequality in Britain.”
Mr Corbyn also said that, under Labour, power would be shifted into the hands “of the majority”. He said “rail, mail, water and the National Grid” would be brought into public ownership.
He said this would make sure “essential utilities” are run “for the public, not the shareholders”. Mr Corbyn also said Labour would commit to abolishing university and college tuition fees.
He said: “We will create a national education service providing free learning from cradle to grave including free school meals for all primary children, smaller class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds, no tuition fees at university or college.”
Following the speech, an audience member called out: “The spirit of ’45, Jeremy”, to which Mr Corbyn replied that he hadn’t even been born at that point.
Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said: “Jeremy Corbyn has done all he can to frustrate delivering on the referendum result.
“This is a cynical attempt to seize power by a man who would wreck the economy, is soft on crime and won’t stand up for Britain. All Jeremy Corbyn offers is more dither and delay.
“Only Boris Johnson and the Conservatives can provide the leadership Britain needs and deliver Brexit by October 31, whatever happens.”
- Press Association