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Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, is already promising to nationalise various utility industries, including water, the railways, Royal Mail and National Grid, while seizing an estimated £300bn of shares to give to workers.
The party’s manifesto, which will be signed off on Saturday, will now include a promise to take control of Openreach as part of a broader £20bn attempt to give the UK free full-fibre broadband by 2030.
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Mr Corbyn, announcing the policy on Friday, will announce that a Labour government would pay an undisclosed sum to take control of the network and insert it into a new public entity called British Broadband.
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The process of delivering state of the art broadband to up to 18m premises would be paid for through £15bn of borrowing, the party said — on top of £5bn already committed by the government to upgrade broadband.
The subsequent cost of maintaining the network would then be funded through a new tax on multinational companies, including tech giants such as Google and Facebook, to raise the £230m a year needed to run the service.
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during a general election campaign event at the University of Wolverhampton in Telford, Britain, November 6, 2019. The party said it would nationalise Openreach, parts of BT Technology, BT Enterprise and BT Consumer.
BT was taken by surprise by the Labour announcement having been reassured by John McDonnell in the summer that BT was “not on the list” for nationalisation.
BT’s chief executive Philip Jansen was in California this week in meetings with Google and Microsoft, some of the Silicon Valley companies that the Labour Party is planning to tax to pay for the investment in full fibre.
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He told the Financial Times that “free broadband for all” was an “appealing” concept for consumers but that it would need to be thought through carefully. Labour has costed the rollout at £20bn but Mr Jansen said that the total number was more likely to be between £30bn to £40bn and that giving away broadband would reduce industry profit by £5bn a year.
Compensation to shareholders would be set by Parliament, in line with the process in Labour’s other nationalisations, and funded through the government issuing new gilts. Bloomberg recently estimated the value of Openreach at between £12bn and £25bn but shareholders would be unlikely to receive full market price for their investments.
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Boris Johnson has announced the Conservatives will raise the threshold for paying national insurance to £12,500 within five years. The prime minister, during a campaign visit to an engineering company in Teesside, told workers he would be "cutting tax" if the Tories win the 12 December general election.Mr Johnson was challenged by one worker as to whether he was promising "low tax" for "people like you, or people like us".The PM replied: "I mean low tax for… working people."If you looking at we're doing… we're going to be cutting national insurance up to £12,000.
However Labour said it would leave other parts of the business in private ownership; EE, Plusnet, BT Global Services, BT TV and other non-broadband divisions.
The promise from Labour comes just days after Boris Johnson, the Conservative leader, promised £5bn of investment to bring full-fibre to every home by 2025.
At present fewer than one in 10 premises in the UK can connect to full-fibre compared to 97 per cent in Japan and around 75 per cent in Spain.
The move to split up BT and nationalise its engineering unit Openreach comes only a year after regulator Ofcom opted against a forced break up of BT to avoid the disruption of a split of the company further delaying a network upgrade.
Gallery: Jeremy Corbyn: Political career in pictures (Photo Services)
Corbyn was born on May 26, 1949, in Chippenham, England, to parents who were members of Labour Party. He had a middle-class upbringing, living in a seven-bedroom manor house in Pave Lane and studying in a public primary school before shifting to Adams Grammar School in Newport.
Jeremy Corbyn pledges to increase public sector pay by 5%
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The Labour Party chief was only 16 when he joined the party. Raised with a socialist outlook, he was actively involved with the Young Socialists and the League Against Cruel Sports during his teenage years.
Before he became fully engaged with politics at home, Corbyn, aged around 19, spent two years in Jamaica, where he was a teacher, and then Chile, where he took part in the May Day march against the Chilean government.
(Pictured) Corbyn (C) and other Labour Members of Parliament (MP) with Tamil refugees on board the government detention ship, the Earl William, based at Harwich on Aug. 6, 1987.
After working for several trade unions upon his return to the U.K., Corbyn tasted his first political success with a victory in the election to the Haringey District Council – a local London council – in 1974 at the age of 25.
(Pictured) With Les Silverstone in September 1975.
In 1979, Corbyn worked for the party’s campaign in Hornsey during the general election. Two years later, he helped organise his mentor Tony Benn’s (L) unsuccessful campaign for Labour Party’s deputy leadership.
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Corbyn entered Parliament from the safe Labour seat of Islington North following his win in the 1983 general elections. Ever since, he has never lost an election from the seat and has increased his majority over the years. At the same time, he also started writing for the communist newspaper, Morning Star, which he has described as the “most precious and only voice we have in the daily media.”
In 1984, he invited two convicted Irish Republican Army (IRA) extremists to the House of Commons. The move caused an uproar and even infuriated members of his own party since it came only two weeks after IRA killed five and nearly assassinated British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in a bombing during a Tory Party conference in Brighton.
(Pictured) At a “British Out of Ireland” march in Whitehall on Aug. 18, 1984.
Corbyn was again in the eye of controversy in 1987 when he observed a minute’s silence as a mark of tribute for eight IRA members killed in an ambush by SAS in Gibraltar. At a meeting the same year, he had said that he felt “happy to commemorate all those who died fighting for an independent Ireland.” His views led to MI5, the U.K.’s domestic counter-intelligence agency, open a temporary file on him.
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In 1998, he was among the politicians who campaigned for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s arrest in a case involving the murder of a British stockbroker in Chile in 1975. The bid failed but the House of Lords later ruled Pinochet must stay in Britain to be extradited to Spain to face charges including genocide during and after the 1973 coup.
In 2003, Corbyn was among the MPs who opposed Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision to invade Iraq. Later in 2011, he was among the 13 MPs who voted against David Cameron government’s decision to join the war on Libya. A staunch opponent of military offensive, Corbyn chaired the Stop The War Coalition from 2001-15.
(Pictured) Corbyn (4th L) and other protesters outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Nov. 28, 2002.
Despite going against the party line more times than could be counted, a sudden backing of some MPs before the close of nominations in 2015 saw Corbyn emerge as a candidate for the party’s leadership. He won the subsequent contest with ease, thereby becoming the Leader of Opposition in the House of Commons in September.
He had to soon face another test – a challenge to his leadership – nine months after he became party chief. Corbyn, however, successfully parried his opponents for a second time and won the Labour Party leadership election in September 2016 by a bigger margin than the previous year’s.
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Faced with accusations of anti-Semitism within the party in 2016, Corbyn suspended former London Mayor Ken Livingstone for saying that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism. He has, however, expressed support for a “targeted boycott” of Israeli goods over the Palestinian issue.
(Pictured) Demonstrators stage a protest against anti-Semitism in Labour Party.
Corbyn has been accused of sympathising with extremists on several occasions. In 2009, he had called Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah “his friends,” a statement he later regretted saying. In 2012, he attended a conference in Qatar and dubbed the speeches by two Palestinian terrorists “fascinating and electrifying” in a column in Morning Star. Two years later, he praised Iran for its “tolerance and acceptance of other faiths, traditions and ethnic groupings” at the 25th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.
In 2017, he participated in an event organised by a British NGO accused of having ties to extremists. During several of his interviews and speeches, he has tried to draw a parallel between acts of terror and Britain’s military actions in other countries.
On the divisive topic of Brexit, Corbyn has held contradictory positions since it began. In 2016, following a referendum, he said that there was still an “overwhelming case” to remain with EU. By early 2017, he adopted a pro-Brexit stance. After initially not supporting calls for a second referendum, he took a U-turn. By September 2019, Labour’s position had again changed to an opposition to a no-deal Brexit.
In October 2019, lawmakers in the U.K. agreed to hold a general election on Dec. 12. As the leader of the Labour Party, Corbyn thus became a Prime Ministerial candidate and will face off against incumbent Boris Johnson, the leader of the Conservative Party.
Since 2012, the Labour leader is married to his third wife Laura Alvarez, a former banker who he met at a Latin American support group in 1999. Corbyn’s first wife was Jane Chapman who he divorced in 1979. He has three sons with his second wife Claudia Bracchitta, a Chilean exile who he married in 1987 and divorced in 1999 following a difference of opinion over the choice of school for their oldest son.
A move to nationalise Openreach would also cause havoc in the British telecoms industry. Virgin Media’s cable network covers half the country and dozens of smaller companies building smaller fibre networks across the country.
A representative of one telecoms company said that the “Corbyn Cable Commune” plan to splash public money across the market does not bode well for the future of BT’s competitors.
The Communications Workers Union described the Labour plan as a “huge pledge”. The union was reported to have prepared a proposal for the potential nationalisation of parts of BT earlier this year.
The shadow chancellor said that this latest nationalisation was “the limit of our ambitions”, a phrase he has used in the past. In July Mr McDonnell told the Times that taking over the water companies was as far as the party would go. “There are no tricks up my sleeve — this is what we’re going to do,” he said. “This is the limit of our ambition when it comes to nationalisation.”
The great Brexit dilemma .
The great Brexit dilemma
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