Corbyn sets out stall to be ‘different kind of Prime Minister’
Jeremy Corbyn pledged to take on “the financial speculators, tax dodgers and big polluters” and lead a government on the side of working people as he set out his stall for the expected election.
The Labour leader, who was forced to bring forward his Labour conference speech after the Supreme Court declared the suspension of Parliament was unlawful, insisted he would be a “different kind of prime minister” as he tore into Boris Johnson.
In a hastily-rewritten keynote speech, Mr Corbyn condemned the “harsh and uncaring” Tories and accused Mr Johnson of being part of an “elite that disdains democracy”.
Mr Corbyn had been due to close the Brighton conference on Wednesday but will instead be in the House of Commons following the Supreme Court decision.
In his speech Mr Corbyn:
– Announced Labour would create a publicly-owned generic drugs manufacturer to supply cheaper medicines to the NHS
– Accused Mr Johnson of playing on people’s fears by comparing veiled Muslim women to “letterboxes or bank robbers”
– Promised a green industrial revolution with three new battery plants in South Wales, Stoke-on-Trent and Swindon
– Insisted Labour’s Brexit policy, the subject of a major row at conference, was “not complicated”
– Warned against sending troops to Saudi Arabia, claiming British actions in the Middle East had resulted in “spreading conflicts rather than settling them”.
Mr Corbyn’s speech came at a conference which has been overshadowed by rows over deputy leader Tom Watson’s role and a split over whether the party should back staying in the European Union.
The Labour leader defended the Brexit policy, which will see the party go into a general election promising a referendum but not saying how it would campaign in that public vote.
He said: “Labour will end the Brexit crisis by taking the decision back to the people with the choice of a credible leave deal alongside remain.
“That’s not complicated – Labour is a democratic party that trusts the people.”
Announcing his plan to create a state-owned pharmaceutical firm, Mr Corbyn said he had been inspired by a meeting with nine-year-old Luis Walker, who has cystic fibrosis.
“Luis’s life could be very different with the aid of a medicine called Orkambi,” Mr Corbyn said.
“But Luis is denied the medicine he needs because its manufacturer refuses to sell the drug to the NHS for an affordable price.”
He hit out at a system “that puts profits for shareholders before people’s lives”.
Mr Corbyn said Labour would use compulsory licensing to secure generic versions of patented medicines and create a new publicly-owned generic drugs manufacturer “to supply cheaper medicines to our NHS saving our health service money and saving lives”.