Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, speaking in the debate on the Early Parliamentary General Election Bill, said Mr Speaker, Labour backs a General Election because we want this country to be rid of this reckless and destructive Conservative Government. A Government that has caused more of our children to be living in poverty, more pensioners to be in poverty, and more people to be in in-work poverty, more families without a home to call their own and more people sleeping rough on our streets. A Government that has cut and sold off so much of our important public services. And that government which created the vicious hostile environment which saw our own citizens deported from this country.
It is time for real change.
I have said consistently when No Deal is off the table we will back an election. Today, after much denial and much bluster by the Prime Minister, that deal is officially off the table, so this country votes for the Government it deserves.
And to give our public services the funding they need and end the threat of privatisation that hangs over so many public service workers, and stop the grotesque poverty and inequality in our country, rebuilding an economy in every region and nation of this country, tackle the climate emergency with a Green New Deal, a Green Industrial Revolution that will bring good quality jobs to many areas of the country that have been denied them by this government and their Liberal Democrat accomplices during the coalition years. And after three years of Conservative failure, get Brexit sorted by – and we’re the only party doing it – give the people the final say over what happens with Brexit.
We will now launch the most ambitious, radical campaign for real change in this country. And I look forward to campaigning in a general election all over the country, including in Uxbridge, if the Prime Minister is still the Conservative candidate there at that time.
I think we should just reflect for a moment. The Prime Minister was actually trying to stifle parliamentary democracy, an almost unprecedented edict that only the Government could amend its own legislation, which presumably they wrote last night, so the idea of amending today what they wrote last night suggests they have a problem of memory loss, perhaps… I don’t know what it is, and so I’m pleased that those amendments are going to be debated today. And what it does, Mr Speaker, is it sums up in a couple of words the authoritarian and undemocratic instincts of this Government and this Prime Minister in their relation to parliament.
So I want to put on record my thanks to my friend, the member for Walthamstow, for her persistence in tabling that amendment last night which means that the House will have an opportunity to debate a number of very serious amendments today. And we will be seeking to expand the franchise in the December election, that means supporting votes at 16, as is the case now for Scottish parliament and Welsh Assembly elections, and it also means that we support the rights of EU citizens with settled status to vote in elections in this country. After all, we do recognise their contribution to our society, we do give them votes in local elections, it seems to me only logical, since they’ve made their future in this country, in our society, they should have a right to vote on their future as well, and I look forward to supporting those amendments later today. And so we just make that point that we want any election to involve as many people as possible. It is meant to be a big exercise in democracy, and I hope the amendments… in that election, everyone should have the right to participate in it. It’s their future that is at stake.
The Prime Minister has failed in his promise to be out of the European Union do or die on 31st October but it may be that date Parliament dissolves and therefore will mark the end of his tenure in office.
So whatever date the House decides the election will be. I’m ready for it, we’re ready for it. Because we want to be able to say to the people of this country, there is an alternative to austerity, there is an alternative to inequality, there is an alternative to sweetheart trade deals with Donald Trump, there is an alternative of a government that invests in all parts of the country, a government that’s determined to end injustice in our society, and a government that’s determined to give our young people a sense of hope in our society rather than the prospect of indebtedness and insecure employment in the future, which is sadly all the Conservative Government and their coalition with the Lib Dems ever brought them.
I’m very ready to go out there and give that message in any election, whenever it comes.