Jeremy Corbyn attacks George Osborne and slams ‘prophecies of doom’ in referendum campaign
Jeremy Corbyn today hit out at George Osborne's claims that Brexit will plunge the UK into a year-long recession.
In what was billed as his strongest pro-EU speech to date, the Labour leader also attacked the "prophecies of doom" being put forward by both sides of the EU referendum debate.
His intervention followed polling which showed Labour voters are unsure of the party's position on Europe.
Mr Corbyn, who was a long-standing eurosceptic but now backs Britain staying in the EU, said the Chancellor's economic record meant his latest forecasts could be ignored.
In a major speech in central London, he said: “Just over a week ago, George Osborne claimed that the British economy would enter a year-long recession if we voted to leave. This is the same George Osborne who predicted his austerity policies would close the deficit by 2015. That’s now scheduled for 2021.
“It’s the same George Osborne who said the British economy would be ‘carried aloft by the march of the makers’ yet the manufacturing sector has stagnated ever since, and manufacturing employment declined.
“The biggest risk of recession in this country is from a Conservative Government that is failing, failing on the deficit, failing on the debt, failing to rebalance the economy and failing to boost productivity.”
Both sides of the EU campaign have been accused of pursuing a Project Fear agenda, with Remain facing particular criticism for its pessimistic predictions of life outside the bloc.
Mr Corbyn said: "There are just three weeks to go until the referendum vote on 23 June but too much of the debate so far has been dominated by myth-making and prophecies of doom.
“In the final stage of this referendum, as we get closer to what is expected by many to be a very tight vote, it does not help the debate over such a serious issue if the hype and histrionic claims continue or worse intensify.
“I believe the EU has the potential to deliver positive change for the people of Britain if there was a radical, reforming government to drive that agenda. Too often what has held back the EU is having to move at the pace of the slowest. Too often that has been the British government.”
Mr Corbyn also appeared to back up claims by pro-Brexit campaigners that a proposed trade deal between the US and the EU could lead to the privatisation of the NHS.
He urged the Prime Minister to block the Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership treaty "that threatens our public services, our consumer and employment rights".
He also acknowledged that large-scale immigration could cause strain on public services, as he announced a Labour government would reintroduce a cash fund to help communities alleviate the pressure.
"This isn’t the fault of migrants. It’s a failure of government," he said. "By abolishing the Migrant Impact Fund, David Cameron’s Coalition undermined the proper preparation and investment that communities need to adapt."
Mr Corbyn insisted that the EU is not perfect in its current form, which is why while Labour “makes the case to remain, we also make the Labour case for reform”.
He also warned that the Conservatives would destroy the rights of millions of workers if Britain votes to quit the EU.
The Labour leader said "a Tory Brexit negotiation would be a disaster for the majority of people in Britain".
Mr Corbyn pointed to new research that shows that 26.7 million people in the UK enjoy workplace rights that are protected by Britain's EU membership.
They include 28 days of paid annual leave, at least one day off per week and 11 consecutive hours' rest in any 24-hour period.
Other workplace rights, which Mr Corbyn will say are protected by the EU, include maternity leave and equality legislation.
The Labour leader said: "A vote to Leave means a Conservative government would then be in charge of negotiating Britain’s exit. Everything they have done as a government so far means we could not rely on them to protect the workplace rights that millions rely on."