Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed Jeremy Corbyn’s economic policies yesterday, as he sought to reassure global investors that Britain is still “open for business” despite the newly-elected Labour leader’s latest claims that he would sign the UK up to an EU financial transactions tax.
Speaking at the Great global investment conference in London yesterday, Cameron said that Corbyn represented a “throwback” to the hard-left politics of Labour in the 1970s and 1980s.
“Back in the 1980s, there was a battle in Britain about the Labour party saying we needed nationalisation, unilateral nuclear disarmament, more powers for trade unions,” Cameron told international investors, who were invited from around the world for the conference tied to the Rugby World Cup, which begins today.
Cameron added that he thought it was “a good thing for Britain” when his opponents moved to the centre ground under New Labour.
“There was a consensus between the parties, as there has been for many years, that we don’t have excessive rates of taxation, we don’t hand over the running of the economy to trade unions, we’re not going to nationalise big industries,” Cameron said. “And frankly it is a throwback that we now have a Labour leader who believes in these things.”
But Cameron added that he “think[s] the British people have come a long way from all of that”, saying, “No one wants to go back to those ideas.”
Cameron said yesterday that there was a “big responsibility” for the Tories to engage with Corbyn on his proposals, including a higher rate of income tax and the renationalisation of the railways.
“We can’t rely on just saying, look, this was a disaster in the 1980s,” he added. “We’ve got to win these arguments all over again with a generation of young people who don’t remember what happened when you pursued those policies.”
“We’re going to win those arguments,” he said, adding: “I would say to investors: have confidence.”
Meanwhile, Corbyn threw his weight behind a so-called Tobin financial transactions tax yesterday.
The proposed pan-European levy on the financial sector aims to raise more than £50bn, hitting almost all EU bond, share and derivative transactions.