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Labour pledges to 'end austerity' as it sets out plan for first 100 days in office

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, speaks at a press conference on December 9, 2019 in London, England. Mr McDonnell spoke on behalf of the Labour Party as they and other parties enter the final three days of campaigning before the British general election on December 12, 2019. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell lays out Labour's economic vision to dismantle austerity. Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell laid out the party’s vision for its first 100 days in government in a speech at Waterloo in London on Monday.

McDonnell announced that his first budget will focus on “ending austerity” in social security and public services, rejuvenate investment in neglected communities via infrastructure spending, and begin the process of renationalising utilities.

“When Labour puts money in your pockets, we will also put power back in your hands. You rely on and work in these services, you know them. But you've been ripped off and shut out from how they're run, to protect vested interests and profits for the wealthy. When we win power it will be to give it to you,” McDonnell said.

READ MORE: Labour to invest £4bn to switch all buses in England to electric power

He also outlined Labour’s plans for the nationalisation of the water and energy industries and how they would be placed in “public ownership under democratic management”.

Outlining the proposals, McDonnell said: “In our first 100 days we will start the process of bringing water and energy into public ownership. We’ll set up boards to run them made up of you, the customer, and you, the worker, as well as representatives from local councils, metro mayors and others [and] make sure decisions are taken locally by those who understand the services – those who use them and deliver them. Meetings will be public and streamed online with new transparency regulations set higher than ever before.

“We’ll [also] create new People’s Assemblies to hold these boards to account and give everyone the option of participating in how their utilities are run.”

READ MORE: Labour promises 'free breakfasts' in schools in pledge to spend billions on education

McDonnell announced that if Labour were elected on Thursday, his first act as chancellor would be to write to the Office for Budget Responsibility, asking them to prepare for his first budget that “will be given on 5 February – the date when almost 10 years of cuts will come to an end.”

Responding to the announcement, Liberal Democrat deputy leader and economic spokesperson Ed Davey said: “Labour’s plans for its first 100 days are built on a fallacy. They cannot invest vast sums in our public services while also subjecting our country to greater uncertainty as they pursue a new Brexit deal.

“Their wish-list for government grows ever longer, but we know that the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said their plans aren’t credible and would simply take our country backwards.”