Jeremy Corbyn: Government is failing Britain in Brexit talks


Jeremy Corbyn is accusing the Government of "failing Britain" in Brexit negotiations, as he warns that a powerful faction in the Conservative Party are actively seeking a no-deal outcome which would cause "economic disaster".

The warning comes in a speech to the Co-operative Party conference on Saturday, in which Mr Corbyn will set out Labour's plans to transform Britain's economic model, so the benefits of new technology are spread more widely.

He will suggest that "gig economy" firms like ride-hailing service Uber could be replaced by co-operatives, in which drivers collectively set pay and conditions and share or re-invest the profits from their work.

He will highlight proposals in a report, published in June, which suggested that ownership and control of the growing number of robots in the workplace could be put "in the hands of those who work with them", allowing the proceeds to be used to fund higher wages and shorter working hours rather than enriching a few at the top.

Mr Corbyn will tell the London conference that Labour is building a "new consensus for the economy" to replace a "broken" system that currently exploits the many for the profits of a few.

Responding to Chancellor Philip Hammond's warning at this month's Conservative conference that Labour poses "an existential challenge to our economic model", Mr Corbyn will say: "He's absolutely right. We do."

A day after the release of a poll suggesting that almost two-thirds of voters (64%) think the Government is handling Brexit talks badly, Mr Corbyn will say that maintaining full access to the European Single Market is vital to Britain's economic future.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

"The Tories are transparently failing Britain in the Brexit negotiations," he will say. "They are making a shocking mess of Brexit. They are split down the middle, negotiating with each other instead of the EU. With each passing day they are driving us closer to a no-deal Brexit."

Mr Corbyn will describe a no-deal outcome leaving Britain with World Trade Organisation tariffs as "the worst possible deal".

"The risk would be that key manufacturers leave for the European mainland, taking skilled jobs with them," he will warn. "In sector after sector, 'no deal' could prove to be an economic disaster."

He will add: "Theresa May's Cabinet of chaos is risking a jobs meltdown across Britain. A powerful faction of the Conservatives want a no-deal outcome because they think they can use it to turn our economy into a deregulated tax haven. We must not let them."

Mr Corbyn will say that Labour wants to build an economy which rewards "the real wealth creators - and that means all of us".

New digital technology should "empower us both as workers and consumers", allowing greater co-operation than ever before, rather than giving rein to "a more rapacious and exploitative form of capitalism".

(Laura Dale/PA)
(Laura Dale/PA)

"The biggest obstacle to this is not technological, but a rigged economic system that favours wealth extractors not wealth creators," he will say.

"That's why we commissioned our report on Alternative Models of Ownership to start asking fundamental questions about who should own and run our economy in the digital age, and how to ensure that its enormous potential benefits serve the many, not the few.

"To prevent the 'rise of the robots' benefiting only a powerful and wealthy few, the report suggests a higher minimum wage, shorter working week, profit sharing schemes or putting the ownership and control of the robots in the hands of those who work with them.

"We don't claim to have all the answers, but are thinking radically about how we can use the power of new technology in the coming decades to make our economy work for us all."