Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to renationalise the ‘big six’ energy firms if he is elected as Labour’s new leader next month.
The veteran left-wing MP, who has taken the Labour leadership contest by storm after starting as rank outsider, said a Labour government under his leadership would start buying shares in each of the six companies until it owned a controlling stake in each of them.
It would mean British Gas, SSE, Eon, RWE, Npower, Scottish Power and EDF would all be nationalised if Mr Corbyn became Prime Minister in 2020. He said he would also nationalise National Grid.
Speaking to Energydesk, he said: “I would want the public ownership of the gas and the National Grid . . . [and] I would personally wish that the big six were under public control, or public ownership in some form.
“You can do it by majority shareholding; you can do it by increased share sales, which are then bought by the government in order to give a controlling interest.”
Admitting renationalising the energy firms would be costly, he said: “Does it cost? Yes. Is there a return? Yes.”
Labour leadership: The Contenders
Labour leadership: The Contenders
1/4 Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn readily admits he is only standing to ensure the left of the party is given a voice in a contest dominated by candidates promising to move the party towards the centre-ground of British politics
Profiles by Matt Dathan
2/4 Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham is the current front-runner to win the leadership election according to bookmakers, but the fact that the Conservative party leadership hopes he wins shows the task that awaits if he is Ed Miliband’s successor. He will have to find a way of distancing himself from both the last five years under Mr Miliband and the Blair and Brown years, during which he served in the Cabinet
3/4 Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper will also face a battle in convincing voters she offers a sufficient break with the past, having served in Gordon Brown’s Cabinet and she played a key role in Mr Miliband’s team as shadow home secretary. The fact that her husband is Ed Balls will not have a negative impact internally but voters are not likely to look favourably on the prospect of Mr Miliband’s ousted shadow chancellor entering Downing Street if Ms Cooper wins in 2020
4/4 Liz Kendall
Liz Kendall faces criticism over her lack of experience – she was only elected in 2010 and has no experience of serving in government and wasn't even in Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet. But that very lack of experience means she can make a pitch as the only candidate offering real change and a real break from the Blair/Brown/Miliband years
He told the Financial Times that he did not necessarily want the national government to own the firms but instead they should be owned by a mixture of local, community and national government levels.
It follows Andy Burnham’s pledge earlier this week to renationalise the railways, a popular policy with voters and one that Mr Corbyn has also signed up to.
Mr Corbyn is currently the narrow second favourite to win the Labour leadership election, behind Mr Burnham but ahead of Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall. He has taken many in the party by surprise and has won more constituency party nominations than any of his rivals.
Under the party’s new one member, one vote electoral system, he stands a realistic chance of winning the contest because of the ability of anyone to pay just £3 to sign up to be eligible to vote. It has led to ‘entryism’ by people from the Green party and hard-left groups who have tried to hijack the contest to ensure Labour elects a socialist leader.
Ed Miliband changed the voting system after he won the 2010 leadership race due to the powerful role trade unions had in the previous electoral system.
Yesterday Mr Corbyn rounded on Labour critics of his economic plans by insisting that many wealthy people would be willing to pay more tax in return for better services. He hit back at accusations from rivals that “Corbynomics” amounts to “deficit denial”.
Writing for The Independent, he responded: “Far from denying the deficit, we must tackle it, but I do dispute that you best close it by cutting the public services and benefits of the poorest, or squeezing spending out of the economy so that growth is slowed down.”