BRIGHTON, England (Reuters) – Britain’s opposition Labour Party pledged on Monday to mobilise financial resources on a scale not seen since the post-World War Two reconstruction, promising a shorter working week and higher public spending with an eye on an early election.
British Labour MP John McDonnell attends the Labour Party annual conference in Brighton, Britain September 21, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Labour is hoping to use the Brexit chaos engulfing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government to win control of Britain’s $2.8 trillion economy at a national election expected to be called later this year.
Presenting himself as Britain’s finance minister in waiting at Labour’s annual conference in Brighton, veteran left-winger John McDonnell set out how he would reshape the pro-business, free-market orthodoxy that has guided the country for decades.
“We’re mobilising financial resources on a scale not seen since the post-War reconstruction to achieve the twin goals of a sustainable future and a better today,” he said.
The 68-year-old, once considered to be at one extreme of Britain’s political spectrum after a lifetime spent campaigning to tear up the capitalist system, is now seen by investors as a possible custodian of the world’s fifth-largest economy.
The Labour Party’s plans for widespread nationalisation, higher public spending, higher taxes and forcing large corporations to give workers shares, have provoked deep concern among investors and business lobby groups.
But with Johnson fighting a battle to keep his divided party together over Brexit and huge uncertainty over how and when Britain will leave the European Union – if it ever does – the result of a national election is hard to predict.
SHORTER WORKING WEEK
McDonnell’s most eye-