Long-Bailey calls for Labour leadership rivals to back re-nationalisation plan

Rebecca Long-Bailey has thrown down the gauntlet for other Labour leadership contenders to back a major re-nationalisation programme and commit to public ownership of key utilities.

Seen as a frontrunner to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, the shadow business secretary vowed on Wednesday night to “stand up to the rip-off privatisers” with plans to re-nationalise energy, water, rail and mail.

Her speech in Leeds came after she won the backing of the Fire Brigades Union to give her sufficient support to join Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy in the final round of the race.

The Salford and Eccles MP’s latest commitment makes her the most closely aligned with the outgoing leader, though she has sought to shake off the “continuity Corbyn” label.

Her opponents, Sir Keir, Ms Nandy and Emily Thornberry, have all indicated they would take more limited approaches to nationalisation.

In a pitch to the party’s left at a rally in Leeds, Ms Long-Bailey said she would “never give up” Labour’s commitment to public ownership.

“I want to be clear that I am fully committed to the pledges in our manifesto last year for public ownership of energy, water, rail and mail,” she said.

“Other candidates say they agree with the transformative programme, but now I’m calling for specific, concrete commitments you can trust.

“Public ownership of key utilities is the foundation for a more fair and equal society, and any candidate for Labour leader should endorse them without hesitation.

“Under my leadership Labour will stand up to the rip off privatisers, and bring wealth and power back into public hands.”

Ms Thornberry and Ms Nandy have both backed re-nationalising rail and mail, but stopped short of returning energy into public ownership.

Sir Keir has so far only committed to bringing back rail into public ownership, but is expected to revisit the issue later in the campaign.

“Keir supports expanding common ownership, whether by outright nationalisation or by other forms such as municipals, community organisations or co-operatives: all of which mean services are run for the public, not for shareholders,” a spokesman said.