You are here
Corbyn tells May to step aside and let Labour govern Britain
[BRIGHTON, England] Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn closed his party's conference in Brighton with a call to Prime Minister Theresa May to step aside and an appeal to his followers to prepare to take over the government of Britain.
After a four-day conference that has cemented his position as leader of a socialist revival in the UK, Mr Corbyn promised a radical left-wing agenda that would seize state control of railways, energy companies and water suppliers.
"We meet here this week as a united party advancing in every part of Britain," Mr Corbyn told cheering activists in the southern seaside city on Wednesday, after an entrance to a hip-hop soundtrack and chants of "Oh Jeremy Corbyn" to a now familiar beat.
"We've become the government in waiting," he said.
"The Labour campaign machine is primed and ready to roll."
Labour's stronger-than-expected showing in the June election, in which the party erased Mrs May's majority, is the springboard to an election victory whenever the next vote comes, Mr Corbyn says.
Mrs May, beset by splits among Conservatives over Brexit and weakened by her failure to win a parliamentary majority, must call an election by 2022 but may not be able to hold her government together that long.
"They're hanging on by their fingertips," Mr Corbyn said.
"This is a weak and divided government with no purpose but clinging to power."
He described Mrs May's administration as a "coalition of chaos", borrowing the wording of her pre-election warning against a Labour-led government.
"We are ready and the Tories are clearly not. They're clearly not strong and they're definitely not stable."
Having steered clear of splits in his own party over Brexit by dodging a vote at the conference, Mr Corbyn highlighted divisions in Mrs May's negotiating team as he pledged to negotiate a "jobs first" break from the EU.
"Respecting a democratic decision doesn't mean giving the green light to recklessness," Mr Corbyn said.
"We're not going to be passive spectators to a hopelessly inept negotiating team putting at risk people's jobs, rights and living standards. A team more interested in posturing for personal advantage than in getting the best deal for our country."
Mr Corbyn reiterated Labour's pledges to stay in the single market during a transition period and guarantee the rights of EU citizens in Britain.
Labour's Brexit approach would "guarantee unimpeded access to the single market" while giving state support to industry that is not permitted under EU rules, Mr Corbyn said.
Mr Corbyn promised to tackle inequality, invest in the state-run National Health Service, improve opportunities for young people and support for the elderly, as his speech was received with rapturous applause at the end of a conference marked by evangelical fervor.
He pledged to introduce rent controls and a tax and compulsory purchase of unused housing land.
During the week, the convention hall and meeting rooms have repeatedly echoed with chants of his name as scarves, T-shirts and comic books for sale celebrated the politician-cum-pop-icon and his completion of the project to wrest back left-wing control of the 117-year-old party after its shift to the center under Tony Blair.
Mr Corbyn has now been embraced as the future of a party that had struggled to forge an identity after it lost power in 2010. Policy detail this week has been light and Brexit largely swept under the rug. Yet the mood is one of revival and of belief that Labour's time has come.
"It feels like one of those mega-churches in the US, it's a kind of evangelical enthusiasm that does seem to have overtaken the party," Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, said after attending a session in the hall Tuesday.
"They're on a high."