While the U.K. did not anticipate another general election until 2020, Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap election last month in effort to ensure political stability prior to Brexit negotiations. At the time, Corbyn said he welcomed the early election. Should he lose, however, he could face pressure to resign.
While neither Corbyn nor his hard-left policies are strangers to the political scene, Wednesday’s manifesto does feature a few surprises. According to the draft, the Labour Party hopes to put a pay cap on businesses with government contracts so that the highest earning employees can only be paid 20 times more than the lowest earners. It also aims to get rid of caps on pay increases for those in the public sector. Additionally, the party plans to double paid paternity leave for the first month, eliminate “zero hours” contracts, and do away with unpaid internships.
When it comes to education, the Labour Party plans to get rid of tuition fees “once and for all.” This marks a change from the 2015 election, when it proposed slight tuition cuts. Other policy proposals include nationalizing railways, giving more power to trade unions, employing additional border guards, building more public housing, and lowering the voting age to 16. Notably, the Labour Party also plans to nationalize energy firms in hopes of achieving 60 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Another key plank of the manifesto is its restrained stance on national defense. Throughout his career, Corbyn has maintained an anti-nuclear policy, describing the use of nuclear weapons as “a disaster for the whole world.” According to the leaked manifesto, the Labour Party will renew the U.K.’s Trident weapons system—to be used as a “letter of last resort” in the event of a nuclear attack—despite Corbyn’s top policy adviser calling for its termination. An earlier version of the manifesto stated that “any prime minister should be extremely cautious about ordering the use of weapons of mass destruction which would result in the indiscriminate killing of millions of innocent civilians.” Similarly, the latest copy of the manifesto says that armed forces should be sent into combat only if “all other options have been exhausted.”
Perhaps the most important feature of the manifesto is its Brexit strategy. According to Wednesday’s draft, the Labour Party will not consider a “no deal” Brexit—a scenario in which the U.K. and European Union fail to reach a trade agreement. May has previously said that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” In addition, while the Tory Party has pledged to make sure net migration levels fall below 100,000, the Labour Party’s manifesto does not establish a migration target. According to Kate McCann, a senior political correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, this decision has the potential to alienate voters who opted to leave the E.U. in the 2016 referendum.
Opponents of the leaked manifesto say it could set the U.K. back nearly 50 years, with a spokesman for the Tory Party referring to it as “a total shambles.” “The commitments in this dossier will rack up tens of billions of extra borrowing for our families and will put Brexit negotiations at risk,” the spokesman told the Daily Telegraph. Whether the public agrees—and whether the manifesto will have a significant impact on voting behavior—remains to be seen.