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- Labour Conference 2017: Jeremy Corbyn says he is “ready for government” and urges the prime minister to step down in speech to party in Brighton Corbyn attacks Prime Minister May’s “bungling” over Brexit and describes the Cabinet as a “coalition of chaos” Labour leader sets out a radical agenda for the country including widespread nationalisation Corbyn pokes fun at the Daily Mail for failing to derail Labour’s election campaign Labour delegates jubilant after a week in which the party remained largely united
LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May must step down and let Labour rescue Britain’s failing Brexit negotiations, Jeremy Corbyn told his party conference in Brighton.
The Labour leader used his 6,000-word conference speech on Wednesday afternoon to attack May’s “bungling” over Brexit, saying that he was now ready to step in and take over.
“Never has the national interest been so ill-served on such a vital issue,” Corbyn said of the prime minister’s record on Brexit.
“If there were no other reason for the Tories to go, their self-interested Brexit bungling would be reason enough.”
The Labour leader described the Cabinet as a “coalition of chaos” after weeks of ministers including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Chancellor Philip Hammond publicly disagreeing over the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU.
“So I have a simple message to the cabinet: for Britain’s sake pull yourself together or make way.”
The Islington North MP added that “respecting the result does not mean giving a green light to recklessness.”
Mocking May, whose leadership has been under pressure since she failed to return a majority in the June election, Corbyn said: “They’re certainly not strong and they’re definitely not stable and they’re hanging on by their fingertips.”
We are now the political mainstream.
Corbyn added that Labour is a “united party advancing in every part of Britain” and a party “ready for government.”
“Against all predictions, in June we won the largest increase in the Labour vote since 1945 and achieved Labour’s best vote for a generation. It’s a result which has put the Tories on notice and Labour on the threshold of power,” he said.
“Yes, we didn’t do quite well enough and we remain in opposition for now. But we have become a government-in-waiting. And our message to the country could not be clearer: Labour is ready.”
The Labour leader described the party’s current ideology as the “new mainstream” in Britain.
“Conference, it is often said that elections can only be won from the centre ground.
“And in a way that’s not wrong – so long as it’s clear that the political centre of gravity isn’t fixed or unmovable, nor is it where the establishment pundits like to think it is,” he said.
Grenfell tragedy a “damning indictment” on the status quo
Corbyn used Grenfell tragedy as a symbol for the failures of the current government.
“The disregard for rampant inequality, the hollowing out of our public services, the disdain for the powerless and the poor have made our society more brutal and less caring,” he told delegates.
“Now that graded regime has a tragic monument – the chilling wreckage of Grenfell Tower, a horrifying fire in which dozens perished, an entirely avoidable human disaster…
“Grenfell is not just the result of bad political decisions. It stands for a failed and broken system, which Labour must and will replace.”
Corbyn arrives at the Brighton Centre prior to his speech
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Corbyn criticises the Daily Mail
The Labour leader, speaking to an adoring audience in Brighton, poked fun at the Daily Mail, claiming that the right-wing newspaper failed to derail the party’s general election campaign.
“The day before the election one paper [the Mail] devoted 14 pages to attacking Labour. But the next day Labour’s vote went up 10%,” he said.
“I have a message for the Daily Mail editor: next time, make it 28 pages.
“Never have so many trees died in vain.”
Corbyn dismissed calls from some wings of the party to soften his message to the country and instead set out a radical left-wing agenda for government, promising widespread nationalisation of key industries.
After praising his party’s surprising advance in the general election, Corbyn said Labour must now go much further with a bold programme for government.
“Let’s take it a stage further: make public services accountable to communities, business accountable to the public and politicians accountable to those we serve,” he said. “Let the next Labour government transform Britain by genuinely placing power in the hands of the people – the creative, compassionate and committed people of our country.”
Under Corbyn’s plans National Rail will be brought back into public ownership as will the water industry as well as potentially other utilities.
Attack on the robots
Corbyn said the party needed to tackle the oncoming automation revolution that risks leaving large sections of the population without jobs.
“We need urgently to face the challenge of automation,” he said.
“Robotics that could make so much of contemporary work redundant. That is a threat in the hands of the greedy but what an opportunity if it’s managed in the interests of society as a whole,”
Corbyn promised to set up a new National Education Service that would train the country for the skills it will need to tackle the issue.
“That will include, at its heart, free tuition for all college courses, technical and vocational training, so that no one is held back by costs and everyone has the chance to learn. That will give millions a fair chance,” he said.