Labour promises free public service broadband for all

Labour has promised a British Broadband public service that will deliver free full-fibre internet to every home and business by 2030, if it wins the General Election.

The party intends to bring parts of BT into public ownership under plans it said will result in a massive upgrade in the UK's internet infrastructure.

The multibillion-pound plan – one of the major announcements of the election campaign so far – will aim to put an end to patchy and slow coverage, boosting 5G connectivity across the country.

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Jeremy Corbyn will make the announcement in Lancaster on Friday and describe the new free public service as central to Labour's plans to transform the country and economy, bringing communities together in an "inclusive and connected society".

Labour said it will be paid for through the party's Green Transformation fund and taxing corporations such as Amazon, Facebook and Google – adding it will save the average person £30.30 a month.

They said there would be a one-off capital cost to rollout the full-fibre network of £15.3 billion, in addition to the Government's existing and not yet spent £5 billion commitment.

The rollout would begin with communities that have the worst broadband access, including rural and remote communities and some inner city-areas, followed by towns and smaller centres, then by areas currently well served by superfast or ultrafast broadband.

In a speech on Friday, Mr Corbyn will say the internet has become such a central part of our lives, adding: "That's why full-fibre broadband must be a public service, bringing communities together, with equal access, in an inclusive and connected society.

"It's time to make the very fastest full-fibre broadband free to everybody, in every home in every corner of our country."

The party aims to deliver free full-fibre broadband to all individuals and businesses by 2030, with the plan being to integrate the broadband-relevant parts of BT into new public entity, British Broadband.

One of the goals is to deliver the service to at least 15-18 million premises within five years.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the BBC the £20 billion plan was "visionary", adding that they will "issue bonds for shares".

A BT spokesman said: "It should be a top political priority to super-charge the roll-out of full fibre broadband and 5G right across the UK so we can build the digital economy of the future.

"Whatever the result of the election, we'd encourage the next government to work with all parts of the industry to achieve that. It's a national mission that's bigger than any one company."

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told BBC's Newsnight the plan would be "transformative for our economy".

Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: "Jeremy Corbyn's fantasy plan to effectively nationalise broadband would cost hardworking taxpayers tens of billions.

"Corbyn is clearly so desperate to distract from his party's divisions on Brexit and immigration that he will promise anything, regardless of the cost to taxpayers and whether it can actually be delivered. What reckless idea will be next?"

Sam Gyimah, Liberal Democrat shadow secretary for business, energy and industrial strategy, said: "It might be a Christmas election, but this is getting silly. Another day, another unaffordable item on the wish list.

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Jeremy Corbyn in Scotland
Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wears a pair of knitted gloves with "Pick Pam", referring to Glasgow North Labour candidate Pam Duncan-Glancy, written on them as he visits the Heart of Scotstoun community centre in Glasgow, on November 13, 2019 as he campaigns for the 2019 general election. - Britain goes to the polls on December 12 to vote in a pre-Christmas general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn canvassing in Govan, Glasgow, during General Election campaigning. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) with Labour activists whilst canvassing in Govan, Glasgow, during General Election campaigning. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (right) with local candidate Matt Kerr (centre) whilst canvassing in Govan, Glasgow, during General Election campaigning. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 13,2019. See PA story POLITICS Election. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn poses with Labour activists as they canvas in Govan, Glasgow, during General Election campaigning. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during a visit to Birkenshaw Sports Barn in Uddingston, south Lanarkshire, during General Election campaigning. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn addresses the crowd as Scottish Labour Party leader Richard Leonard look on as they visit Birkenshaw on November 13, 2019 in Coatbridge, Scotland. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is touring, wearing a scarf featuring the specially made tartan of the children's charity "Who Cares Scotland", key constituencies in Scotland alongside Scottish Labour candidates. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Activists await the arrival of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn as he visits Birkenshaw on November 13, 2019 in Coatbridge, Scotland. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is touring key constituencies in Scotland alongside Scottish Labour candidates. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Activists await the arrival of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn as he visits Birkenshaw on November 13, 2019 in Coatbridge, Scotland. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is touring key constituencies in Scotland alongside Scottish Labour candidates. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Leader of the Scottish Labour party, Richard Leonard, speaks during Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn's visit to Birkenshaw Sports Barn in Uddingston, south Lanarkshire, during General Election campaigning. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A group of WASPI (Women against state pension inequality) supporters, as Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, arrives at Birkenshaw Sports Barn in Uddingston, south Lanarkshire, during General Election campaigning. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
HAMILTON, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn visits a Sainsburys Superstore on November 13, 2019 in Hamilton, Scotland. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is touring, wearing a scarf featuring the specially made tartan of the children's charity "Who Cares Scotland", key constituencies in Scotland alongside Scottish Labour candidates. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to the Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre in Glasgow, during General Election campaigning. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to the Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre in Glasgow, during General Election campaigning. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn with the party's candidate for Glasgow Central Faten Hameed during a visit to the Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre in Glasgow, during General Election campaigning. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to the Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre in Glasgow, during General Election campaigning. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn poses with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard (L) as he arrives at the Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre on November 13, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, wearing a scarf featuring the specially made tartan of the children's charity "Who Cares Scotland", is touring key constituencies in Scotland alongside Scottish Labour candidates. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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"Wasting billions of taxpayer funds to nationalise BT, won't solve the connectivity issues faced by so many of our rural communities."

Meanwhile, John le Carre and Joanna Lumley are among 24 public figures declaring their refusal to vote for Labour because of its association with anti-Semitism.

In a letter to the Guardian, the group said the path to a more tolerant society "must encompass Britain's Jews with unwavering solidarity" and said Mr Corbyn has "a long record of embracing anti-Semites as comrades".

Elsewhere, Nigel Farage said there had been "thousands of phone calls and emails" to prospective Brexit Party candidates from the Conservative side telling them not to stand in the General Election in return for jobs and peerages.

In a video posted on Twitter, he said that he, along with eight "senior figures" in his party, were offered peerages.

A Conservative spokesman said: "Neither the Conservative Party, nor its officials have offered Brexit Party candidates jobs or peerages."

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