LONDON: Britain’s opposition Labour party sought to shrug off the apparent leak Thursday of its manifesto for next month’s election, which includes its view on Brexit talks.
The document proposes sweeping reforms including the renationalisation of the railways, tax hikes and a large increase in borrowing to invest in infrastructure.
It also says that if Labour were in charge of negotiations on leaving the European Union, it would not follow through on Prime Minister Theresa May’s threat to walk away rather than accept an unsatisfactory deal.
Most of the proposals have been raised before and Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s national campaigns co-ordinator, said it was not a manifesto but simply a draft of policy ideas.
But it provides further embarrassment for Labour, which is divided over its direction under leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn and languishing in the polls behind May’s Conservatives.
Senior Labour figures gathered Thursday for a meeting to finalise the manifesto for the June 8 vote, ahead of its publication next week.
Speaking afterwards, Corbyn said participants had “amended a draft document that was put forward” and reached unanimous agreement.
The policies included would be “very popular” and “transform the lives of many people”, he said, adding that they were fully costed.
But the Conservatives said Labour was in “total shambles”.
“The commitments in this dossier will rack up tens of billions of extra borrowing for our families and will put Brexit negotiations at risk,” a spokesman said.
Reject Brexit ‘no deal’
Labour has struggled to adopt a clear position on Brexit, which most of its MPs opposed and which has divided its supporters.
Corbyn this week said the issue was “settled”, and it was now a question of getting the best deal for Britain.
But he then failed to confirm that Britain would definitely leave the EU if he were prime minister, leaving aides to clarify later that this was the case.
The leaked document, first published by the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror, said that leaving the EU without a deal “is the worst possible deal for Britain and would do damage to our economy and trade.”
“We will reject ‘no deal’ as a viable and negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid a cliff-edge for the UK economy,” it said.
On immigration, a key factor in the referendum vote for Brexit last year, it vowed to make no “false promises” on cutting the number of migrants coming to Britain.
The Conservatives have failed for the past seven years to fulfil their pledge to reduce net migration to under 100,000, but look set to repeat the promise, which is popular.
The document also details plans to renationalise the railways, introduce state-owned energy firms, and hike corporation tax on large companies.
It outlines plans to borrow £250 billion ($323 billion, 297 billion euros) to “upgrade” the British economy, including investing in transport, energy and digital infrastructure.
It also commits to more than £6 billion extra funds every year for the state-run National Health Service (NHS) through increasing income tax on the highest five percent of earners.
Other policies include scrapping university tuition fees and launching a review to slow the number of pubs closing.