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Jeremy Corbyn’s fury as he accuses Tories of copying his ‘magic money tree’ idea

Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Tories of copying his “magic money tree” borrowing proposals – but instead ploughing billions into private hands rather than public services.

The former Labour leader was famously attacked with the cutting jibe during a 2017 election debate in response to his lavish spending plan to end austerity.

Four years on and his party are as far from No10 as ever – but it is now the Conservatives who face accusations of being addicted to printing money.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an astonishing £150billion of extra spending in the Budget last week, on top of over £300billion already signed off to pay for the pandemic.

In his first interview since stepping down last year, Corbyn also likened government minister Michael Gove to something out of Monty Python after he was appointed Minister for Levelling Up – the Tory plan to make things more equal across the country.

Corbyn told the Sunday Mail of his anger that policies he devised were “dismissed out of hand”.

And he also warned his successor Keir Starmer that Labour will need to offer voters a more radical alternative if it hopes to win power.

Speaking at a rally in Manchester in 2017

He said: “In 2017 I was talking about the need to invest in a green industrial revolution, to set up national investment banks for Scotland, Wales and the English regions, borrow in order to grow.

“I remember Boris Johnson ruffling his hair and saying, ‘Oh God, this is crazy, we can’t do any of this.’ And now he has borrowed far more than we’d ever suggested within a few months.

“I feel very annoyed that a lot of what we were saying was dismissed out of hand by the media and our political opponents.

They now understand the importance of it and in many ways I feel it’s a vindication of everything that we said during the 2017 and 2019 election campaigns.

“Just one other example is that I proposed free broadband access for everybody and it was denounced as ‘broadband communism’ – yet that is exactly what they are proposing now.

“Even in terms of the pandemic, we met Johnson in early 2020 when I was still leader and it was John McDonnell pushing for the furlough scheme, which was later adopted.”

The cost of the pandemic response was calculated to be £284billion in the Government’s spending review published at the end of 2020, with at least £55billion more earmarked for 2021-22.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates borrowing of about £394billion to pay for it – the highest level since World War II.

Sunak said he would “invest” rather than “retrench” when he unveiled a further £150billion of spending in the Budget.

But the Conservatives faced accusations that huge sums have been wasted, including billions spent on Covid contracts signed with party donors.

The £37billion NHS Test and Trace service has been branded an “eye-wateringly expensive” failure in a damning report by MPs.

Corbyn, who led Labour to a better than expected result in the 2017 General Election before suffering his party’s worst ever defeat in 2019, added: “There has been very little obvious results from the billions that went into the private sector for Test and Trace.

“It would have been more effective to expand the ability of local authorities and public health authorities to take on that function.

“I also believe there was an ideal opportunity to expand NHS capacity by taking over the private health sector instead of paying vast sums of money to treat patients.”

Corbyn was also scathing of Tory claims to be spreading opportunity around the country.

He added: “Inflation is hitting the poorest people hard and we also have a cut in Universal Credit that is really going to hurt.

“We now live in a country that has more food banks than branches of McDonald’s.

“Inequality grew during Covid and is not being challenged by the Government.

Jeremy Corbyn’s fury as he accuses Tories of copying his ‘magic money tree’ idea
Jeremy Corbyn hit out at Tory claims of spreading opportunity around the country

“Levelling up is a great slogan – I just wish it was happening.

“Appointing a Minister for Levelling Up sounds like something from Monty Python.”

Since taking over as leader, Starmer has failed to take the lead in opinion polls. In an interview with the Sunday Mail last week he insisted a future election would be won from the middle ground of politics.

But Corbyn said: “I don’t think Labour are offering a radical enough alternative.

“There’s far too much giving the Government a fair wind on Covid when we should be much more assertive in attacking them for their incompetence.”

Corbyn will be in Glasgow for Cop26, where he will meet trade unions and delegations from the developing world.

He added: “I hope we can ensure any green industrial revolution shares the benefits.

“I believe we can achieve Net Zero by 2030 but it will require major ­polluters to commit to real action.”



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