Labour’s 2019 election manifesto will be confirmed today after Jeremy Corbyn arrived to face a showdown with scores of party chiefs.
The “transformative” document is set to promise nationalised mail, rail, water, energy and broadband, free NHS prescriptions and six years’ free adult education in England, and a £10 minimum wage for all over 16.
But unions and some of Labour’s front bench were still split over key issues – including immigration – as the party prepared to kick off its ‘Clause V’ meeting at noon today.
Unlike the Tory manifesto Labour’s is agreed by the shadow cabinet, ruling NEC, PLP committee, Scottish and Welsh leaders and union reps in a mammoth meeting before election day.
Mr Corbyn arrived to protesters chanting ” Labour party hear us say – free movement here to stay” at 10.30am in central London.
Speaking hours after unveiling a £20bn pledge for free broadband he boasted: “It’s going to be a document that will be transformative of the lives of people al over this country.”
But sources said there were still deep splits over how far to allow freedom of movement after Brexit .
Labour’s Party conference last month passed a radical motion to “maintain and extend free movement rights”, “ensure unconditional right to family reunion” and “reject any immigration system based on incomes, migrants’ utility to business, and number caps/targets”.
But party chiefs have repeatedly indicated the policy – which the Tories falsely claim is axing all immigration controls – will not pass into the manifesto intact.
Frontbench splits emerged this week when Diane Abbott said Labour was committed to maintaining and extending free movement rights – only for sources to stress she was talking about EU citizens.
A union source told the Mirror unions were also split, with Unite and the CWU pushing for a firmer line including protections for workers’ rights while the TSSA and Unison wanted a more open policy.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey spoke to a protester as he arrived saying: “We support the protection of migrant workers and every other worker as well.”
Meanwhile a union source said there was a “bust-up” over Labour’s Green New Deal – which would back getting the UK to net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
The source said the GMB union, which represents many workers in heavy industry, was refusing to sign off the policy and even threatening to come out publicly against it.
The Mirror understands the Clause V meeting opens with an introduction by NEC chair Andi Fox followed by a presentation on the “political context” from Jeremy Corbyn.
The manifesto will then be introduced one section at a time – including on the economy, NHS, education, police, migration, housing and a second referendum on Brexit.
Changes to the text can only be made if there is a consensus including Mr Corbyn and the relevant member of the shadow cabinet. If that consensus doesn’t exist, the issue can be pushed to a vote.
Details will not be released officially tonight with the launch only due on Thursday.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said Labour “needs to do a sensible deal with Europe that would allow change to the way we manage migration.”
He added: “One of the reasons I think people voted in the way that they did was a sense of unfairness between the way people coming from Europe are treated but people from India or Pakistan or other countries get a differential treatment.
“So I think this is an opportunity to get fairness into the immigration system so that it deals with people on the same level wherever they come from.
“And I do believe the public were asking for a reform of that kind.”
But any reforms would depend on Labour either winning an overall majority against the odds or forming a coalition.
Lib Dem Sir Vince Cable today said his party were “absolutely clear we couldn’t possibly allow” Jeremy Corbyn into 10 Downing Street through a coalition or pact.
He claimed: “The idea of Jeremy Corbyn winning and becoming Prime Minister, one in a million. It’s not going to happen.”
Mr Corbyn told us this week: “I never comment on opinion polls, I only comment on the prospects of success, and they are very very good.”