Keir Starmer’s U-turn on renationalisation sparks fury from Labor Corbynites
Sir Keir said he would take a ‘pragmatic rather than ideological approach’ and said his commitment to sustainable public finance was ‘very important’.
Downplaying the prospects of renationalisation, he said: “My mission is growth and the foundation of this mission is a partnership agreement with companies.
“I think what some of our mayors and metro mayors are doing with transit is the right way to go – absolutely focused on keeping prices low and making sure there’s a check on where the things are going.”
Insiders said the state of public finances, which they fear will worsen at the time of the next election, makes engagement unaffordable without racking up mountains of debt.
While the proposal could be revived if the economy were to rebound, sources said it would be low on the Labor leader’s list of priorities to ensure ‘a good delivery for taxpayers’.
The announcement sparked fury from left-leaning MPs who still support Mr Corbyn and oppose attempts to shift the party to the centre.
Ian Lavery, who served as Labor Party chairman under the former leader, said: ‘For the avoidance of doubt, I support a public rail network. Mail, energy and water too.
“We are treated as dangerous radicals”
“It still shocks me that because I think rail, power and water should be brought back into public ownership… we are being treated as dangerous radicals,” added Claudia Webbe, the MP for Leicester East who has suspended the whip.
Support poured in for the TUC’s call for the renationalisation of the energy sector, which featured a video praising French utilities.
It was retweeted by a number of left-leaning Labor MPs, including Clive Lewis, a former shadow business secretary under Mr Corbyn.
“I think this effort to reassert democratic and public ownership of key sectors of the economy [is] now more critical than ever. Please pass this motion to your CLP,” he said.
Richard Burgon, a former Shadow Justice Secretary, and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a Corbyn supporter, also shared the rallying cry with their supporters.
Ms Ribeiro-Addy ‘pinned’ a tweet to the top of her account of a broadcast interview she gave in May calling for the renationalisation of public services.
“If energy companies are raking in massive profits from consumers year after year, that’s not just an argument for windfall taxes,” she said at the time.
“It’s a case for making energy public property and using the money we pay shareholders to cut bills and invest in renewables instead.”
Matt Zarb-Cousin, a former Mr Corbyn spin doctor, tweeted two clips of Sir Keir pledging to deliver on the renationalisation pledge in the 2020 leadership race.