Starmer re-commits Labour to abolishing university tuition fees

Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to uphold Labour’s commitment to abolish tuition fees, as the leadership hopeful sets out his plans to lead the party back from defeat.

The shadow Brexit secretary and frontrunner to succeed Jeremy Corbyn said Labour must stand by its plan to “end the national scandal of spiralling student debt”.

Sir Keir will be setting out 10 leadership pledges including scrapping Universal Credit and putting the “green new deal” on the environment at the heart of all policies.

In what will be seen as pitches to the left-wing base of the current leader, Sir Keir will also re-affirm his commitment in supporting the common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water.

He will also support an income tax increase for the top 5% of earners and pledge to end outsourcing in the NHS and justice system.

“Labour must stand by its commitment to end the national scandal of spiralling student debt and abolish tuition fees,” Sir Keir said.

“Under the Tories, tuition fees have tripled and young people are leaving with university with nearly £60,000 worth of debt. Let’s be blunt: we need to end the scandal of spiralling student debt.”

Labour leadership election timetable
(PA Graphics)

He also urged Chancellor Sajid Javid to use his Budget next month to reverse the Conservatives’ axing of maintenance grants, saying young people cannot wait until after the next election.

Tuition fees were first introduced under Labour by Tony Blair at the maximum price of £1,000, but the Tories have seen them increase to up to £9,250.

Sir Keir, Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey have all succeeded in getting to the final stage by winning the support of organisations affiliated to the party, including unions.

But the final contender, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, has so far failed to win sufficient backing to make it to the ballot of members and other supporters.

On Tuesday she issued a plea to constituency parties for their endorsement so she can “make every candidate raise their game” ahead of the vote.

Mr Corbyn’s successor will be announced on April 4.

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