Labour election manifesto leak: Theresa May accuses Labour of taking Britain 'back to the past'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the general election campaign trail in Rotherham. (PA)

Theresa May has called Labour’s election manifesto leak ‘pretty shambolic’, saying the blunder shows the ‘chaos’ that could be unleashed if Jeremy Corbyn’s party were to win the election.

Theresa May said the plans revealed in the 43-page document would take Britain ‘back to the past’.

The leak forced the party onto the back foot, revealing their intentions to take the energy industry, railways, buses and the Royal Mail back under public control.

It has sparked a starkly divided response, with those on the right claiming the policies will take Britain ‘back to the 1970s’ while many Corbyn supporters hailed it as an powerful agenda.

Mrs May told Channel 4 news: ‘I think what we see from the issue around the Labour Party’s manifesto is, first of all, it is pretty shambolic the way the manifesto has come out.

‘I think that shows the sort of chaos that we would see from a Labour government.

Theresa May called the leak ‘pretty shambolic’ (PA Images)

‘But, crucially, if you look at what they are suggesting, if you take their manifesto overall, actually, what they are suggesting is taking us back to the past.’

Mr Corbyn confirmed that an amended version of the manifesto had now been ‘unanimously agreed’.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: “We do not comment on leaks. We will announce our policies in our manifesto, which is our plan to transform Britain for the many, not the few.”

The draft manifesto commits Labour to boosting workers’ rights and reversing a series of benefits cuts – including the so-called bedroom tax.

The leak to two national newspapers suggests at least one person from inside the party is planning to sabotage the election in a blow to Labour’s campaign strategy.

Mr Corbyn pulled out of a campaign event on Thursday morning, though insiders have insisted it is not related to the leak.

Labour’s election co-ordinator, Andrew Gwynne, admitted that while the “sabotage” was unhelpful he said “at least people are talking about Labour”.

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He told the BBC’s Today programme all the policies would be fully costed, details of which would be revealed in the coming days, adding they would be “genuinely transformational”.

He added that there would be no change to VAT, national insurance, or income tax for 95% of workers – intimating the wealthiest 5% of the country would be hit.

And he denied the document was the party’s manifesto.

He told Good Morning Britain: “The point is today the whole of the shadow cabinet, the executive committee and other stakeholders are meeting to go through what will become our manifesto.

“This document that has appeared in the newspapers today isn’t a manifesto. It’s a draft of policy ideas that have been collated from various members of the shadow cabinet, their teams and other stakeholders.”

The revelations were condemned in the right-wing, mainstream media press. The Daily Mail described it as “the longest suicide note in history”.

And it claimed one Labour insider had warned it was “Ed Miliband’s manifesto with hard left hundreds and thousands sprinkled on top”.

The Daily Telegraph, which first published details of the manifesto along with the Daily Mirror, said Mr Corbyn’s policies would “take Britain back to the 1970s”.

The left-wing Mirror, on the other hand, said Mr Corbyn’s plans would “fix rip-off Britain”.

On social media, the sentiment seemed to be broadly in favour of Mr Corbyn, with Momentum hailing its left-wing agenda as “brilliant”.

Mr Corbyn plans include the following:

:: Railways will be renationalised as each private franchise expires, with fares frozen and guards put back on driver-only trains

:: Publicly owned bus companies will be established

:: Royal Mail will be returned to public ownership following the coalition government’s “historic mistake” of selling it off

:: The manifesto commits to “take energy back into public ownership” by setting up a rival to the existing Big Six private firms

To pay for the policy pledges, Labour has already announced plans to hike corporation tax to 26% by 2022, bringing in an extra £20 billion for the Exchequer, and indicated that people earning more than £80,000 will face tax rises.

But the manifesto indicates a further levy on firms “with high numbers of staff on very high pay”.

Labour has insisted its manifesto will be fully costed, and the document vows to eliminate the deficit and balance the budget by the end of the next parliament, the Mirror reported.

Mr Corbyn’s effort to win support from voters who backed Brexit may be hampered by the manifesto’s measures on the EU and immigration.

The Telegraph said the document ruled out setting a target for cutting net migration – something Theresa May has committed to despite so far failing to hit the Conservatives’ “tens of thousands” ambition.

The manifesto says Labour believes in “fair rules and reasonable management” of migration but rules out “making false promises on immigration numbers”.

Mr Corbyn has insisted “Britain is leaving the European Union” but the manifesto reportedly rules out breaking away from Brussels without a deal.

The Labour leader has highlighted the importance of tackling the housing crisis, and the draft document commits councils to build 100,000 new homes, while private landlords will only be allowed to raise rents in line with inflation.

A Labour supporter holds up a picture of Jeremy Corbyn

In an effort to bridge party divides over Trident, the manifesto commits Labour to the nuclear deterrent, but in a nod to Mr Corbyn’s opposition to the weapons it says “any prime minister should be extremely cautious about ordering the use of weapons of mass destruction which would result in the indiscriminate killing of millions of innocent civilians”.

The final version of the pitch to voters will be have to be approved by around 80 Labour figures, a senior party source said, including the shadow cabinet, the national executive committee, the parliamentary committee of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Welsh and Scottish Labour leaders, members of the national policy forum and trade union representatives.

The meeting in London is also expected to help define the “attitude” of the party to issues in the election that will not be covered by the manifesto, according to the Labour Party rulebook.

A Conservative spokesman said: “The commitments in this dossier will rack up tens of billions of extra borrowing for our families and will put Brexit negotiations at risk. Jobs will be lost, families will be hit and our economic security damaged for a generation if Jeremy Corbyn and the coalition of chaos are ever let anywhere near the keys to Downing Street.”

The Prime Minister sought to put pressure on Labour over defence policy by committing to inflation-busting increases in spending.

Mrs May said she will “always put Britain’s national security first” as she renewed the Tory pledge to spend 2% of national income on the defence budget.

Her focus on security came as The Times reported a rift over tax policy between Mrs May and Chancellor Philip Hammond.

The newspaper said Mrs May’s team was infuriated after Mr Hammond effectively committed the Prime Minister to ditching the Tory promise not to raise VAT, income tax or national insurance.

A Tory source dismissed the rumours of a rift as “little more than incorrect Westminster tittle-tattle”.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron is campaigning in Wales, voicing his support for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project.

Thursday also marks the deadline for nominations ahead of the June 8 contest. Would-be MPs must submit their nomination papers – and a £500 deposit – to their constituency’s returning officer by 4pm.

Key points from the leaked Labour manifesto:

RAIL

:: Railways brought back into public ownership as franchises expire.

:: Under public ownership fares will be frozen, driver-only operation ended and free WiFi introduced across the network.

:: HS2 will be completed and will link with a “Crossrail of the North”.

ENERGY

:: Energy market partially brought back into public ownership.

:: Creation of at least one publicly owned energy company in every region of the UK.

:: Central government control of the grid and distribution.

:: Cap average household dual fuel bills at £1,000 a year.

:: Ban fracking.

HIGHER EDUCATION

:: Tuition fees abolished and maintenance grants reintroduced for university students.

BREXIT

:: Labour “accepts the referendum result” and intends to build a close new relationship with Europe “not as members but as partners”.

:: Retain benefits of single market and customs union.

:: Immediately guarantee existing rights of EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens living in another EU country.

:: No “no deal” option at the end of Article 50 negotiations, with “transitional arrangements” negotiated instead to avoid cliff-edge.

:: Scrap Great Repeal Bill and replace with EU Rights and Protections Bill.

IMMIGRATION

:: Labour “believes in fair rules and reasonable management of migration” and will not make “false promises” on numbers.

:: Income thresholds for family members replaced with an obligation to “survive without recourse to public funds”.

:: Creation of a Migrant Impact Fund to support public services in host communities. It will be funded by visa levies and a contributory element from residence visas for high net worth individuals.

HEALTH

:: More than £6 billion extra annual funding for the NHS through increased income tax for top 5% earners, increased tax on private medical insurance and halving management consultants’ fees.

:: Mental health budgets ring-fenced.

:: Pay cap scrapped.

:: EU NHS workers’ rights immediately protected.

:: NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans halted.

:: Creation of a new “quality, safety and excellence regulator” called NHS Excellence.

CARE

:: Move towards creation of a National Care Service.

:: Investment of £8 billion in services over the next parliament, including £1 billion in the first year.

:: Improve conditions for care workers.

:: 15-minute care visits scrapped.

:: Carer’s Allowance increased to be in line with Jobseeker’s Allowance.

WORKERS’ RIGHTS

:: Creation of a Ministry of Labour to deliver investment in enforcing workers’ rights.

:: Repeal Trade Union Act and introduce “sectoral collective bargaining” through unions.

:: Zero hours contracts outlawed.

:: Unpaid internships banned.

:: Employers stopped from only recruiting from overseas.

:: Bring minimum wage in line with living wage – at least £10 by 2020.

:: Rights for all workers to have access to trade union.

:: Paternity leave doubled to four weeks and paternity pay increased.

:: Protections for women on maternity leave strengthened.

:: Four new public holidays to mark patron saints’ days.

:: Public inquiry into blacklisting.

EXECUTIVE PAY

:: A 20:1 limit on gap between the lowest and highest paid workers in companies given Government contracts.

:: Reduce pay inequality through legislation by introducing an “excessive pay levy” on companies with high numbers of staff on high pay.

TAXATION

:: No income tax rises for those earning below £80,000 a year.

:: Large corporations will pay “a little more” tax while remaining competitive with cash paying for education and skills budgets.

:: Extra powers for HMRC to chase individuals and companies who avoid tax.

PENSIONERS

:: “Triple lock” guaranteed throughout next parliament or kept to at least 2.5%.

:: Winter fuel allowance and free bus passes kept as universal benefits.

:: Compensation for women born in 50s who had state pension age changed without fair notification.

HOUSING

:: Invest to build one million new homes, including 100,000 council and housing association homes by the end of next parliament.

:: Rent rises capped to inflation and legal minimum standards in properties for rent.

:: 4,000 homes for people with history of rough sleeping.

WELFARE

:: Scrap bedroom tax and reinstate housing benefit for under-21s.

:: Review cuts to Universal Credit and limits on payments to first two children of families.

INFRASTRUCTURE

:: Borrow to invest £250 billion over 10 years on energy, transport and digital infrastructure.

:: Improve 4G mobile coverage and invest to bring uninterrupted 5G to all urban areas, major roads and railways

DEMOCRACY

:: Lower voting age to 16.

DEFENCE

:: Support the renewal of Trident.

:: Keep defence spending as 2% of GDP.

CRIME

:: 10,000 more police officers for community beats.

:: Conduct major review of counter-terror Prevent programme.

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