Election 2017: Labour may pledge to scrap university tuition fees

The move could form the centrepiece of Labour's education pitch to voters next week

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Indy Politics

Labour has signalled it may pledge to scrap tuition fees in a move likely to prove popular with young people and university students.

Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary, was repeatedly asked whether her party would include the move in its manifesto to be published next week and hinted that it would be.

It comes as the party announced plans to pump billions of pounds into schools and adult learning as part of a “National Education Service” package, paid for by increasing corporation tax.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Rayner was asked whether Labour planned to abolish tuition fees. She responded: “You’ll see all of our manifesto and the costing of it.

“But today I want to reassure the parents that are listening to your show ... that the funding that follows their children into school, will be there to make sure that teachers are not being made redundant.”

Pressed again, she said: “Well, we’ll get to that point another time, but let me be clear – yes of course [it’s important], the whole of our manifesto is and education to me is my little niche, so of course it’s important to me.”

Asked a third time by interviewer John Humphrys, she replied: “Ah, John, watch this space.”

Mr Corbyn and Ms Rayner unveiled £20bn plans for education on Wednesday including almost £6bn for cash-strapped schools, a pledge to abolish 30-plus class sizes, provide all primary school children free school meals, scrap fees for adult learners and bring back student grants.

Labour claimed it could fund the ambitious proposals by undoing Conservative plans to cut corporation tax to 17 per cent by 2020 and instead raising it to 26 per cent – still lower than in other EU countries.

David Gauke, Conservative chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “Jeremy Corbyn can’t deliver any of this. They’re just made-up promises on the back of nonsensical spending plans. He’s spent this damaging tax rise on businesses on 12 different things and he’s already dropped numerous things he’s said he’d do before.”