Now Keir Starmer says Labour WILL nationalise the railways in bizarre U-turn after seemingly dropping the pledge just hours earlier
- Sir Keir U-turned on his U-turn as he pledged again to renationalise railways
- He had backed Rachel Reeves who had said Labour would not take trains public
- After left-wing outcries, Keir reiterated his support for publicly-owned rail
Labour was in policy disarray last night after Sir Keir Starmer appeared to drop his pledge to nationalise the railways – before performing a U-turn hours later.
Yesterday morning Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said renationalisation was no longer compatible with Labour’s ‘fiscal rules’.
Speaking in Liverpool later, Sir Keir backed his frontbencher, saying he would reject an ‘ideological’ position and instead take a ‘pragmatic’ approach to the issue.
But he was forced to clarify his position last night, saying that Labour would stick with the pledge he ran for the party leadership on to nationalise the railways in government.
Labour was in policy disarray last night after Sir Keir Starmer appeared to drop his pledge to nationalise the railways – before performing a U-turn hours later
He said: ‘On the specifics of nationalisation, I’m pragmatic, not ideological. I don’t think that after the pandemic an ideological response is the right one.
‘Rail is probably different from the others because so much of our rail is already in public ownership. That is what I mean about not being ideological about it.’
Earlier, Miss Reeves had said that ‘spending billions of pounds on nationalising things’ does not fit within Labour’s fiscal guidelines.
She also said nationalisation was a ‘commitment in a manifesto that secured our worst result since 1935 [in the 2019 general election]’ – one that has now been ‘scrapped’.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves (left) said renationalisation was no longer compatible with Labour’s ‘fiscal rules’
When questioned afterwards about his view on the public ownership of rail, Sir Keir said: ‘Whether it comes to rail or anything else, I want to be pragmatic about this rather than ideological.’
This appeared to spark a row within the Labour front bench, with trans- port spokesman Louise Haigh saying: ‘Labour is committed to public ownership of rail and putting the public back in control of our bus network to drive down prices, improve services and meet net zero.’
Labour’s junior transport minister Sam Tarry insisted that the party’s position that rail networks would be renationalised was ‘100 per cent crystal clear’.
On the same day as the chaos, trade union leaders demanded the nationalisation of energy firms in a bid to combat the cost-of-living crisis.
In a new report, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) claimed putting energy companies into public ownership would reduce bills for struggling families and allow increased investment in energy efficiency.
Earlier, Miss Reeves had said that ‘spending billions of pounds on nationalising things’ does not fit within Labour’s fiscal guidelines
Their stance was revealed to have put them at odds with Labour after Sir Keir attempted to move further away from Jeremy Corbyn’s legacy.
The party has abandoned pledges on nationalising rail, mail, water and energy companies, as they had promised under Mr Corbyn before the 2019 general election.
As well as putting himself at odds with trade unions, Sir Keir faced an immediate revolt from Labour’s Left over the U-turn on nationalisation.
But he stressed he would take a ‘take a pragmatic approach rather than an ideological one’ to public ownership as he backed Ms Reeves’ remarks.
The Labour leader used a speech this morning to insist there would be ‘no magic money tree economics’ under his leadership.
Sir Keir also took a swipe at the ‘Thatcherite cosplay’ of Tory leadership contenders Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, as he hit out at ‘Tory stagnation’.
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