Make way for Labour, May told
• Corbyn says his leftist ideas have become political mainstream and his party should lead Britain’s negotiations with the EU
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has told Prime Minister Theresa May to step aside and make way for the Labour Party to lead Britain’s Brexit talks, saying his leftist ideas are now the “political mainstream”.
After taking the stage on Wednesday at his party’s annual conference to a standing ovation, Corbyn, once written off by some MPs for driving the party into unelectable territory, said Labour was ready for power.
He is keen to press home his advantage over May, who is struggling to unite her party over Britain’s negotiations to leave the EU and to keep her own position. She faces a threat from some Conservatives who cannot forgive her for the loss of their parliamentary majority in the June election she called.
“Against all predictions, in June we won the largest increase in the Labour vote since 1945 and achieved Labour’s best vote for a generation,” Corbyn said. “It’s a result which has put the Tories on notice and Labour on the threshold of power.
“Yes, we remain in opposition for now. But we have become a government-inwaiting. And our message to the country could not be clearer: Labour is ready.”
Labour is closing the gap in opinion polls to stand roughly level with the Conservatives, putting it within sight of winning an election.
The Conservatives have said they have no plans to call a vote before 2022. However, the party is dependent on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party for a majority in parliament and its deal with the small Northern Irish party could be hurt by a trade spat involving Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier, Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing employer.
Most Conservatives do not want to open the way for Corbyn, whose promises to end austerity have won over many young voters.
The Labour Party leader has tapped into discontent in Britain, a trend seen across western Europe where the dominance of traditional parties and their beliefs are being challenged.
With his aides working on the belief that May will be forced into an early election before Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, the party has started to develop its policies, ready to introduce them swiftly.
“It feels like we’ve won, it feels like we’re there, it feels like we’re in government. The only frustrating thing is we’re not, yet,” said Chris Howes, an 18year-old party activist from central England. “But we’re ready whenever the election comes.”
After being discounted for pursuing what his critics said were policies harking back to the 1980s when Labour lost power to the Conservatives, Corbyn said Britain was ready for change and his party was ready to move further along its
WE HAVE BECOME A GOVERNMENTIN-WAITING. OUR MESSAGE COULD NOT BE CLEARER: LABOUR IS READY
leftist route. Adding to his policies on renationalisation, ending university tuition fees and increased public spending, he said he would bring in a housing policy to make sure local councils would have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment plans could go ahead.
“We need to build a still broader consensus around the priorities we set in the election, making the case for both compassion and collective aspiration,” he said. “We are now the political mainstream.”
Turning the tables on May, who before the June election said Corbyn would lead a “coalition of chaos” if voted in, Corbyn said her cabinet of top ministers were the ones who had failed so far to negotiate with the EU as one. “This rag-tag cabinet spends more time negotiating with each other than they do with the EU. A cliff-edge Brexit is at risk of becoming a reality,” he said.