Labour set for universal basic income manifesto pledge, John McDonnell reveals
Labour will consider putting plans for a universal basic income in its next election manifesto, John McDonnell has revealed.
The Shadow Chancellor told the Independent the proposal was “worth a try” and was currently being discussed at the top level within the party.
The details of the plan are being thrashed out as part of a Labour-commissioned review aimed at transforming the welfare state, which is expected to be published in the autumn.
Mr McDonnell said he had discussed the universal basic income concept with former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was “really keen” to push forward with the policy.
The plan would see means-tested benefits replaced with on unconditional flat rate payment to all citizens, and has been trialled in other countries including Finland and Canada.
The Shadow Chancellor said: “It’s one of those things I think we can get into the next manifesto and see, it’s worth a try.
“There have been pilots elsewhere. I’m trying to wait for the feedback.”
He added: “If you look at what’s happened elsewhere in other countries – and I think Scotland is looking at it as well – they are doing it on a small geographical basis in particular towns…
“It will be thrown into the discussions about the next manifesto – that’s one of the ideas that a lot of people are pressing for.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Mr McDonnell said there would “almost certainly” be a debate on Brexit at this autumn’s Labour party conference in Liverpool.
“There will be a range of policy debates and Brexit is bound to be one of them. There’s bound to be debate this year,” he said.
Asked about the likelihood of Labour backing a second EU referendum, Mr McDonnell said he would prefer a general election.
“My view is that they should just move over and let us start the negotiations. If they are not willing to do that – general election and let’s decide…
“My worry is that if you go for another referendum we could have an equally spilt vote and divide the country all over again.”