Jeremy Corbyn pledges second EU referendum in Labour's 'manifesto of hope'
21 November 2019, 12:04 | Updated: 21 November 2019, 12:36
Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to hold a second EU referendum if Labour come to power, as well as scrapping tuition fees, in the party’s “manifesto of hope.”
The party leader said the manifesto was “the most radical and ambitious plan to transform our country in decades” in a speech at Birmingham City University.
He also pledged to protect the NHS, tackle the climate emergency and cap rents in the private rental sector.
But the manifesto falls short of agreeing to freedom of movement regardless of whether the UK stays in the EU.
The party plans to create a "humane immigration system", scrap the 2014 Immigration Act and rules out pursuing net migration targets.
Mr Corbyn said: “If you’re a patient or a nurse, Labour is on your side. We'll rescue our NHS, make dental check-ups free, recruit thousands of nurses and doctors and bring down waiting lists.
“If you’re a student, Labour is on your side. We’ll create a National Education Service, make lifelong education a right, value technical education as highly as academic learning and we’ll bring back maintenance grants and, yes, scrap university tuition fees.
“If you’re reaching old age, Labour is on your side. We’ll protect pensions and provide free personal care. If you’re living with a disability, Labour is on your side. We’ll update the Equality Act and scrap Universal Credit.
“If you’re a tenant, Labour is on your side. We’ll launch the biggest council house-building programme since the 1960s and cap rents. If you’re a new parent, Labour is on your side. We’ll guarantee 30 hours of free childcare for all two to four year olds.”
He said the party would hold a "legally-binding" referendum on EU membership, the manifesto says, confirming plans to hold the vote within six months of coming to power.
Within three months, Labour would try to secure a new deal based on "a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union" and "close alignment with the single market".
Unlike the last public vote on EU membership, the manifesto says: "It will be legally binding. Labour will implement the decision of the British people immediately."
It also commits to reverse cuts to public sector pay by giving above-inflation pay rises starting with a 5 per cent increase by hiking taxes for those earning more than £80,000 and freezing those for everyone else.
Mr Corbyn said the manifesto offers "real change for the many, not the few".
He said: "I accept that the opposition and hostility of the rich and powerful is inevitable.
"I accept the opposition of the billionaires, because we will make those at the top pay their fair share of tax to help fund world-class public services for you - that's real change.
"I accept the hostility of the bad bosses paying poverty pay because we will give Britain a pay rise starting with a real living wage of at least £10 an hour, including for young workers - that's real change.
"I accept the implacable opposition of the dodgy landlords because we will build a million homes, empower tenants and control rents - that's real change.
"I accept the hostility of the big polluters because we will make sure they pay their fair share of the costs of their destruction, create a million climate jobs and build the healthy, green economy of the future - that's real change.
"I accept the fierce opposition of the giant healthcare corporations because we will stop them sucking out profits out of our NHS - that is real change.
"I accept the hostility of the privatised utilities companies because we will stop their great rip off by bringing rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership and running them for the people - that is real change.
"And here's a brand new one: I accept the implacable opposition of the private internet providers because we are going to give you the very fastest full-fibre broadband for free - that's real change.
"You can trust us to do all this because we're opposed by the vested interests for standing up for a different kind of society.
"These policies are fully costed with no increases in VAT or income tax or National Insurance for anyone earning less than £80,000.
"There's no tax increases for 95 per cent of taxpayers. We will deliver real change for the many, not the few. That's what this manifesto is all about."