Labour confirms it plans to renationalise railways if it wins election

Return ticket to British Rail: Labour confirms it plans to renationalise railways if MPs triumph in general election

  • Louise Haigh confirmed the railways would come back under public hands
  • RMT boss Mick Lynch said he would ‘welcome’ the move to public ownership 
  • Labour’s policy comes after months of confusion and contrasting rhetoric

LABOUR has confirmed it will renationalise the railways if it wins the next general election. 

Transport spokesman Louise Haigh told the conference yesterday that rail would be placed back in public hands after the current contracts with operators expire.

She told delegates – many of whom had a hard time reaching the gathering in Liverpool due to slashed train timetables and widespread disruption – that private rail companies should no longer be allowed to provide a lacklustre service. 

The confirmation of Labour’s nationalisation policy comes after months of confusion and contrasting rhetoric from the Shadow Cabinet. 

Miss Haigh told the conference: ‘British railways have become a cash machine for companies and foreign governments. 

 The confirmation of Labour’s nationalisation policy comes after months of confusion and contrasting rhetoric from the Shadow Cabinet

This cannot go on – things must change. And Labour in government will make sure they will.’ 

RMT boss Mick Lynch said yesterday the union would ‘welcome’ the move to public ownership.

This the summer the Labour leadership appeared to perform several U-turns over nationalisation, despite Sir Keir Starmer including the policy in his manifesto when running for the party’s leadership.

In July, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said renationalisation was no longer compatible with Labour’s ‘fiscal rules’. 

She was initially backed by Sir Keir, who said he would reject an ‘ideological’ position and instead take a ‘pragmatic’ approach to the issue. 

Nationalisation was a foundational policy of the 2019 manifesto, which the current leadership has sought to distance itself from. 

When asked if he had dropped his leadership pledge, Sir Keir said: ‘On the specifics of nationalisation, I’m pragmatic, not ideological. I don’t think that after the pandemic an ideological response is the right one. 

‘Rail is probably different from the others because so much of our rail is already in public ownership. That is what I mean about not being ideological about it.’ 

Miss Haigh was forced to post a statement on social media at the time clarifying the party’s position favouring public ownership. 

But during conference, the party has appeared to settle on a clearer policy, with Miss Haigh suggesting a Labour government would end ‘this farce’ of privatised rail. 

The party’s rail minister Tan Dhesi had earlier hinted at the change, telling a fringe event hosted by the militant RMT union that nationalisation had been Labour policy since he took his post in 2020. 

RMT leader Mick Lynch said yesterday (Mon): ‘We welcome the Labour Party committing itself to public ownership of the railways. 

‘Tackling the greed and inefficiency of the private sector in our railways and other public services should be a key priority for the next Labour government.’

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