- Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke in favour of boosting Britain’s manufacturing in a speech to the EEF.
- Corbyn says because of a lack of infrastructure strategy from the Government, manufacturers couldn’t take advantage of the post referendum fall in the pound.
- However, Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson says to Business Insider: ‘”Saying a drop in the pound is good for exporters is a bit like saying a flood is excellent news for swimmers”.
- Corbyn hit out at May for “cosying up to Donald Trump” and not putting British workers first.
LONDON: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused Prime Minister Theresa May of failing to secure the “benefit” of Brexit for UK manufacturers.
Speaking in Birmingham, Corbyn said the falling pound could have helped UK manufacturers, but said the government had instead overseen the “farming out” of contracts oversea.
“Our exporters should be able to take proper advantage of the one benefit to them that Brexit has already brought – a more competitive pound,” Corbyn said.
“After the EU referendum result the pound became more competitive and that should have helped our exporters.
“But they are being sold out by a lack of a Conservative Government industrial plan which has left our economy far too reliant on imports. “
He accused May’s government of needlessly handing lucrative contracts to overseas companies.
“Between 2014 and 2017, Network Rail awarded contracts worth tens of millions of pounds to companies outside of the UK, while the NHS awarded contracts worth over a billion,” he said.
“In the same period, the Ministry of Defence awarded contracts elsewhere worth over £1.5 billion pounds, even though we are under no obligation, under either European or international law, to open up defence contracts to overseas bidders.”
Corbyn promised to use nationalisation to benefit UK workers.
“The next Labour government will bring contracts back in-house, ending the racket of outsourcing that has turned our public services into a cash cow for the few. And we will use the huge weight of the Government’s purchasing power to support our workers and industries.”
However, Labour’s opponents accused Corbyn of selling out Britain’s poorest
“Saying a drop in the pound is good for exporters is a bit like saying a flood is excellent news for swimmers,” Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake told Business Insider.
“A fall in sterling only benefits a few, not the many who will suffer from a higher cost of living…The hit to our economy caused by Brexit will make it more difficult to pay for public services such as schools and hospitals, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.”
Responding to the speech, Exchequer to the Treasury and Conservative MP Robert Jenrick said: “This is laughable coming from the Labour Party who oversaw millions of jobs lost and a record decline in manufacturing.”
“We know from last time Labour don’t know how to handle the economy and now their plan would mean higher prices for families and lower wages for workers. The greatest risk to jobs and investment is a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.”
Corbyn attacks May’s “customs chaos”
Corbyn also attacked the Conservatives’ “customs chaos” maintaining that their handling of Brexit has “real and damaging effects”. Corbyn quipped that May could not talk about how wanting to take control of Britain’s border when she could not “control her own Cabinet”.
The Labour leader also highlighted what he perceived to be a regional inequality to the manufacturing decline, saying that “for the last 40 years, a magical kind of thinking has dominated the way Britain is run. We’ve been told that it’s good – advanced even – for our country to manufacture less and less and instead rely on cheap labour from abroad to produce imports, while we focus on the City of London and the finance sector.”
Citing the UK solar industry, as an example of Britain’s manufacturing decline, Corbyn said: “British solar firms were hit by cuts to subsidies in 2015 and 2016 and changes to business rates for buildings with rooftop panels. As a result, between now and 2022, France is forecast to add five times as much solar capacity as the UK; Germany ten times.”
“Labour will have a joined up plan to keep our industries, old and new, humming with activity. It will help us build a clean, green 21st century economy, right here in the UK: building solar, wind farms and tidal lagoons to help us tackle climate change.”
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