Jeremy Corbyn says Brexit can be ‘a catalyst’ for transforming Britain's economy

Posted On: 
19th November 2018

Brexit can be "a catalyst" for radically transforming Britain's economy, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

Jeremy Corbyn during the EU referendum.
Credit: 
PA Images

In comments which risk angering pro-EU Labour MPs, he said leaving the bloc could lead to the industrial and economic renewal of the UK's nations and regions.

Addressing business leaders at the CBI conference, Mr Corbyn also said "the rules of the game need to change" if Britain's wealth is to be shared more fairly around the country.

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Mr Corbyn said the 2016 vote to leave the EU had been caused in part by the rising levels of poverty caused by the financial crash a decade ago.

"It could not be clearer, business as usual isn’t working," he said. "And when the rules of the game aren’t working for the overwhelming majority, the rules of the game need to change.

"That means a new settlement for business and a stronger say for the workforce where government will drive a higher rate of investment in infrastructure, education, skills and the technologies of the future and the largest businesses that can afford it will pay a bit more towards the common good.

"To meet the greatest challenges facing our country today, we shouldn’t fear change, we should embrace it.

"Deep-seated change is needed to avoid a damaging Brexit that will hurt enterprise, jobs and living standards, and instead use it as a catalyst for economic transformation.

"Change is needed to prevent the destruction of our environment that endangers all of our futures. And change is needed to tackle the huge inequality that has distorted the economy and disfigured our society."

Mr Corbyn said a Labour government would offer "a stronger say" for workers and a “new settlement” for business which would include the largest firms paying “a bit more towards the common good”.

'COMMAND AND CONTROL'

But CBI Boss Carolyn Fairbairn said: "Firms have made an offer to Labour – to work with business in a new partnership to solve the issues facing the UK and build a truly competitive and fair country.

"From rigid employment rules to blunt public ownership, the Labour approach sounds more command and control, than partnership. This is not the change that is needed.

"Labour and business do share an ambition to tackle inequality, but the way to achieve this is through collaboration based on the belief that enterprise is a force for good."

Mr Corbyn's intervention comes a day after he told Sky News that he did not know how he would vote in a future referendum on Britain's EU membership.

He also refused to say whether or not Brexit could be stopped - arguing only that Labour did not have the numbers in parliament to block it alone.

His speech comes hours after Theresa May told delegates the final Brexit date could be pushed back to the next general election in 2022.

The transition - currently scheduled to last between the exit date of March 2019 and December 2020 - will see the UK remain tied to most EU rules in a bid to smooth its withdrawal from the bloc.