- REUTERS/Toby Melville
- Shadow Chancellor says business leaders are planning for Labour to win the next election.
- Business sees Labour as “the government in waiting,” John McDonnell claims.
- He says his party will save Britain from the coming economic “catastrophe” under Theresa May’s government.
- Conservatives and Lib Dems accuse Labour of reckless economic plans.
LONDON – Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell today claimed that business leaders see Labour as “the government in waiting” and accused the Conservatives of leading Britain to a “catastrophe” in a speech on the economy.
McDonnell said business leaders he has met in recent weeks are making long-term plans based on the assumption that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour will form a government at the next general election.
McDonnell also attacked Philip Hammond for having “no idea what is going in the real world” as the chancellor prepares to announce the government’s Autumn budget next week.
“Let’s hope he wakes up and see what is happening to the real people,” McDonnell told a press conference in Westminster.
He described the austerity agenda initiated by former Chancellor George Osborne and continued by Hammond as based on “at best a myth, and at worst a lie.”
He added: “It would help if he [Hammond] recognised he’s not a concerned bystander, he has been a senior member of government since 2010. It’s his and that of his colleagues. theirs alone. They failed to address the failures of the economy, and have added to them.”
“The NHS now faces the worst recruitment crisis in its history… Cuts to local policing a direct threat to national security and fight to keep streets safe from terrorism… The current crisis at risk of becoming a catastrophe.
“The lesson is clear. The lessons is we cant go on like this. Austerity doesn’t just have to end – we need to start seriously investing in public services and our economy.”
In his speech, McDonnell called on the government to announce an “emergency budget” and said Chancellor Hammond should make the following commitments:
- Pause the roll-out of Universal Credit
- Pump money into health, education, and local government
- Put money towards public sector pay rises
- Increase funding for infrastructure projects
- Launch a national, large-scale house-building programme
McDonnell accused Theresa May’s government of being “ill-prepared and incapable” to negotiate Brexit but failed to confirm whether a Labour government would set aside funds for a no-deal scenario.
“We believe that we should negotiate a deal and as a government, we’d negotiate a deal,” he said.
Responding, Conservative Steve Barclay MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Since Labour’s recession we have turned our economy around by taking a balanced approach to public spending and backing businesses to create better, higher-paid jobs.
“Labour always take it too far and we know what that means from last time – more debt, higher taxes, fewer jobs – and ordinary working people paying the price.
“Only the Conservatives are working to deliver a stronger economy and a fairer society – building a Britain fit for the future.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said McDonnell’s plans for the economy “don’t add up.”
“Labour’s spending plans were pulled apart by the Institute for Fiscal Studies during the general election and it appears the shadow chancellor is still not properly costing his ideas,” Cable said.
He added: “Over-assumptions of tax take are a feature of Corbyn and McDonnell’s Labour and would pile debt on future generations.”