Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said that Labour will do everything it can to prevent a no-deal Brexit which allows Tory backbenchers to fulfil a “full blooded neo-liberal dream”.
Speaking on the final day of the Scottish Labour Conference in Dundee on Sunday, Mr McDonnell said the party would move to prevent such an outcome ahead of further votes on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU at Westminster this week.
“Over the next few days there is nothing more urgent than making sure the extremists on the Conservative backbenches don’t get to fulfil their terrifying dream of a no deal Brexit,” said Mr McDonnell.
“Their motivation is not about respecting the referendum decision. They might proclaim it’s about sovereignty and democracy, but the reality is it’s about fulfilling the full blooded neo-liberal dream that they have harboured for the last four decades.
“A fantasy of turning our country into a tax haven off the coast of Europe, with workers’ rights and environmental protections torn up in their deregulated Britain post-Brexit.
“We know what a catastrophe that would be for the jobs and livelihoods of our people. Labour will be doing everything we possibly can to make sure this never comes to pass”.
He's the weakest Chancellor among his Cabinet peers that I can ever remember and possibly in parliamentary historyShadow chancellor John McDonnell
Mr McDonnell also accused Chancellor Philip Hammond of going “missing” and said that his legacy would be one of austerity policies and low growth.
“We needed a Chancellor who will stand up to block the worst fantasies of the Tories’ backbench zealots becoming a reality, but Hammond has gone missing,” said the shadow chancellor.
“He’s refused to force them to take the catastrophic no-deal Brexit off the table, he’s refused to take on the Tory ministers who are threatening British manufacturers with a disastrous zero-tariffs regime and he’s failed to fix the fundamentals of the economy to prepare for the worst.
“He is the weakest Chancellor among his Cabinet peers that I can ever remember and possibly in parliamentary history.
“It’s difficult to find anyone with a similar disaster rating of failing Grayling but Hammond is coming pretty close.
“And if Theresa May chooses or is forced to sack Hammond, what will be his economic legacy? The lowest growth in six years, manufacturing in recession, investment falling, wages below where they were 10 years ago, a trade deficit over £10 billion last quarter, the slowest recovery from a recession since the 1920s, an austerity programme that has destroyed the fabric of our society and left public services at breaking point, with more cuts still to come”.
He added: “I was here in Scotland a few months back and at one of our meetings, I heard one mum who hadn’t eaten in three days so she could give what little food she had to her children.
“This is the fifth richest country in the world. What do you call that? I call it a bloody disgrace”.
Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution will deliver 50,000 jobs for Scotland.— Scottish Labour (@ScottishLabour) March 10, 2019
We will tackle climate change and rebuild our communities after years of austerity.@johnmcdonnellMP #ScotLab19 pic.twitter.com/jhuyRNhkHU
During his speech, Mr McDonnell also indicated that a Labour government would bring about a green industrial revolution and would create 50,000 additional jobs for Scottish workers.
He said: “Under Labour, Scotland will be at the heart of a green industrial revolution in our energy sector that could save this planet.
“Scottish hydro, Scottish wind, and Scottish wave power are essential to achieving the transition to the sustainable fuel sources programme that we need, with Scottish gas continuing its important role in the mix as well.
“This is not just to meet our international obligations but it’s helping to avert the climate catastrophe we face. You know that already 60% of the UK’s onshore wind capacity is in Scotland.
“Labour has developed ambitious plans for expanding onshore wind. At least 60% of that new capacity will be here and could mean 20,000 new jobs in Scotland.
“With another 42 gigawatts of capacity under Labour from offshore wind, that’s another 15,000 jobs in Scotland. And when we roll out our UK-wide home retrofitting programme, that could be close to another 15,000 more jobs in Scotland.
“That’s a total of another 50,000 new, well-paid, unionised jobs as a result of our green industrial revolution. That is Jobs created through supporting industry here”.