Britain's Labour Party unveils 'radical' election manifesto

 16 May 2017 - 14:53

Britain's Labour Party unveils 'radical' election manifesto
(L-R) Ian Lavery, Labour elections and campaign coordinator, Kate Osamor, Shadow minister for international developement, British opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and deputy leader Tom Watson pose with copies of the Labour election manifesto after the launch in Bradford on May 16, 2017. AFP / Paul ELLIS

AFP

Bradford, United Kingdom: Britain's opposition Labour Party pledged to raise taxes on the well-off, renationalise key industries and end austerity in its manifesto on Tuesday, presenting voters with their starkest choice in decades in next month's election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the programme "radical and responsible", saying the country had been run "for the rich, the elite and the vested interests" in seven years of Conservative government.

"It will change our country," he said in his speech at the presentation of the manifesto in Bradford in northwest England.

"It will lead us through Brexit while putting the preservation of jobs first," he said, appearing in front of Labour's election manifesto: "For the many, not the few."

Corbyn promised a Labour government would immediately guarantee the rights of EU citizens in Britain and during Brexit negotiations would aim to maintain access to the European single market.

The manifesto included a tax increase from 40 percent to 45 percent for salaries of between £80,000 (94,000 euros, $103,000) and £123,0000 a year, above which there will be a new 50 percent top rate of income tax.

The current 40 percent tax rate applies to people earning between £45,000 and £150,000.

Labour has said the rise would fund increased investment in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) and would only affect five percent of earners.

The party also plans a levy on businesses with staff earning large salaries over £330,000.

Labour also promised to renationalise the railways, water companies and part of the energy sector.

Corbyn promised to scrap university tuition fees, a pledge met with huge cheers from supporters gathered to hear him speak at Bradford University. 

Labour has also promised it will increase corporation tax to 26 percent by 2020.

Such changes are among the measures to boost the state coffers by the £48.6 billion needed to meet the commitments outlined in the Labour manifesto.

"It's a programme that will reverse our national priorities to put the interests of the many first," Corbyn said.

"This is a programme of hope. The Tory campaign, by contrast, is built on one word: fear."

Other pledges in the Labour manifesto include building one million new homes and adding four national holidays to the calendar.

The director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Paul Johnson, said Labour's tax changes would mark a significant shift.

"Tax burden already heading upwards. If Labour could raise the £49bn it claims we would have highest tax burden in 70 years," he wrote on Twitter.

Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives immediately slammed the plan as "nonsensical" and not properly costed.

"It's ordinary working people who will pay for the chaos of Corbyn," Treasury Chief Secretary David Gauke said in a statement.

The Conservatives currently have a double-digit lead over Labour in opinion polls.