May 16, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
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Labour has promised a massive increase in public spending, funded by an increase in corporate tax and higher taxation of those earning more than £80,000 a year.
Launching the party’s election manifesto in Bradford on Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn said it was a fully costed plan to transform Britain’s economy for the benefit of the many.
“We are asking the better-off and the big corporations to pay a little bit more – and, of course, to stop dodging their tax obligations in the first place. And in the longer term we look to a faster rate of growth, driven by increased private and public investment, to keep our accounts in shape. This is a programme of hope. The Tory campaign, by contrast, is built on one word: fear,” he said.
Many of the details of the manifesto were leaked to the media last week, but there were some new announcements, including a plan to nationalise water, as well as the Royal Mail and the railway network. It promises big increases in spending on health, social care and education, including the abolition of third-level tuition fees.
Mr Corbyn sought to put some distance between Labour and the Conservatives on Brexit, promising that Labour would take a different approach in the negotiations, prioritising access to the single market and the customs union. But he made clear that Labour accepts the outcome of the referendum and will not seek to reverse it.
Labour opposes a second referendum on Scottish independence but promises more devolution elsewhere, including the appointment of a Minister for England. On foreign policy, the manifesto says a Labour government would not hesitate to voice disagreements with Donald Trump and promises to immediately recognise the state of Palestine.
Campaigning in Stoke-on-Trent on Tuesday, Theresa May dismissed Labour’s manifesto as unrealistic.
“The question isn’t what people are promising but can you believe that people will deliver what they’re promising? You can only fund our NHS, you can only have the funding that we’ve made available in relation to childcare if you’ve got that strong economy,” she said.
“What we see from Labour’s proposals today is that they don’t add up and their nonsensical economic policies would mean that actually it was ordinary working families who would pay the price for Labour’s coalition of chaos.”
Trade union leaders praised the manifesto as a promise of real change but Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, condemned its plans to increase taxation and public spending.
“High personal taxation, sweeping nationalisation and deep intervention in business decision-making are not the hallmarks of an ambitious and enterprising society. Taken together, some of the headline propositions in the Labour Party manifesto will give business communities across the UK real cause for concern,” he said.
Plaid Cymru also published its manifesto, promising to be a strong voice for Wales during negotiations on Brexit. The party wants Wales to continue to be able to trade with the EU without costly barriers but its leader Liane Wood said it is no longer seeking to keep Wales in the single market.
“Things have moved on. We’ve moved on from the referendum. We’ve moved on from talking about membership of the single market,” she told BBC Wales.
“What is vital now is that we are able to do whatever we can to protect those 200,000 jobs reliant on access to the single market.”