Jeremy Corbyn wants Richard Branson to be stripped of knighthood

The feud between Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Branson has deepened as the Labour leader’s most senior ally called for the Virgin tycoon to be stripped of his knighthood.
Jeremy Corbyn wants Richard Branson to be stripped of knighthood

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell hit out at the entrepreneur, claiming he wanted to “undermine our democracy” after Virgin Trains released footage disputing Corbyn’s claims about overcrowding on one of its services.

McDonnell, who is running Corbyn’s campaign to be re-elected as Labour leader, demanded an overhaul of the honours system and also restated his call for former BHS boss Philip Green to lose his title.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, McDonnell said Branson was a “tax exile who thinks he can try and intervene and undermine our democracy”.

The row between Branson and Corbyn erupted after Virgin Trains released CCTV images that appeared to show the Labour leader walking by vacant, unreserved seats before he was filmed sat on the floor complaining about crowded carriages.

McDonnell said: “The whole purpose of the honours system is undermined when the rich and the powerful can collect their gongs without giving anything back. It’s even worse when tax exiles are given honours.”

He added: “It should be a simple choice for the mega-rich. Run off to tax exile if you want. But you leave your titles and your honours behind when you go.”

A spokesman for the shadow chancellor said: “John believes that it should be for parliament to ultimately decide who is or who is not stripped of their title, if enough members of the public campaign for it.

“But he would not support tax exiles or businessmen who mistreat their employees retaining their titles.”

Labour leadership rival Owen Smith dismissed McDonnell’s call for the Virgin boss to be stripped of his knighthood, saying Branson had told the truth about the traingate row.

He told LBC Radio: “That seems a bit much, to be honest. I think it was merely pointing out the reality that Jeremy didn’t need to sit on the floor. I can’t imagine we’d strip somebody’s honours for telling the truth.”

Meanwhile, Corbyn and Smith set out measures aimed at tackling the housing crisis in the UK as the leadership battle in the party intensified.

The Observer reported that a Labour government run by Corbyn would borrow £15bn a year to build houses across the country — half of them council homes — as part of a £500bn programme of public investment.

A Corbyn administration would aim to build a million homes during a five-year parliament and introduce new safeguards for tenants.

The policy papers suggest that the net cost to the public sector will be £10bn a year, because two-thirds of the construction bill would be labour costs, meaning extra tax revenues for the Treasury, the newspaper reported.

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