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Corbyn blames ‘climate emergency’ for Labour’s renationalisation plans

Corbyn unveils Labour plan to nationalise the energy network as critics blast socialist ‘green revolution’ to seize power lines and give poor Britons free solar electricity to stop ‘climate emergency’

  • Corbyn wants to take National Grid and regional providers out of private hands 
  • He said: ‘Profits would be much better spent on investing in renewable energy’
  • Tories said the move would hit pension funds that hold shares in the power firms
  • Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to Treasury, said it would discourage investment in UK 

Jeremy Corbyn defended his plan to renationalise energy network firms today, claiming that shareholders’ cash would be better spent on buying solar panels to combat the ‘climate emergency’. 

The Labour leader unveiled the plan to take the National Grid and regional distribution firms out of the hands of private shareholders and into public ownership below their market value.

Speaking on a visit to Salford in Manchester he said the party’s policy was ‘win-win’ and ‘crucial’ at a time of global climate change.

He said: ‘The National Grid has just declared profits of £3billion in one year and is paying dividends out to shareholders.

‘I think that money would be much better spent on investing in renewable energy.

‘It would mean lower bills, it would mean they were all making a contribution to the issues we have got to face about how we deal with the climate emergency and it will mean that the poorest people will get the most benefit from it because they will get free electricity that’s generated from the roof of their homes.’

Mr Corbyn (pictured today in Manchester) said shareholder dividends would be ‘much better spent on investing in renewable energy’ for British homes

Under the plans, Labour would create a National Energy Agency which would protect energy as a ‘human right’

Jeremy Corbyn’s plot to renationalise energy network ‘like something from socialist Venezuela’

Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to renationalise energy networks on the cheap has been likened to something from socialist Venezuela  – and could cost the taxpayer billions. 

Dan Neidle, a partner at law firm Clifford Chance said that the proposal could break international law because it would not fully compensate shareholders.

He told the BBC that every major UK nationalisation since the Second World War, including the Bank of England and the coal and gas industries, had resulted in shareholders being give the market rate for their holding. 

‘What we haven’t seen is a government trying to price chip and get a cut-price nationalisation for less than market value,’ he said.

‘The courts have never said that’s acceptable and the various decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and international arbitration tribunals go completely in the other direction.

‘You have to look quite hard for governments that have done that. 

‘The one in recent times is Venezuela which has nationalised dozens of companies, often for less than market value and they ended up in dozens of international arbitration tribunals and shelling out billions of dollars in compensation. 

‘So that is where this goes.’

Mr Corbyn has previously voiced support for the regime in Venezuela, which is currently battling to retain control in the face of a growing economic and humanitarian crisis, with hyperinflation and food shortages under Nicolas Maduro.

Under the plans, Labour would create a National Energy Agency to replace the National Grid which would own and maintain the transmission infrastructure while overseeing targets for decarbonisation, and protect energy as a ‘human right’.

Regional Energy Agencies (REAs) would replace the existing Distribution Network Operators, and hold a statutory responsibility for decarbonising electricity and heat.

 But the proposals have been widely criticised, with the National Grid – set up in 1990 after power was privatised – saying it is the “last thing” needed to help tackle climate change.

 A spokeswoman said the proposals would delay the progress being made to move to green energy, saying: “National Grid is one of the most reliable networks in the world, we are also at the heart of the decarbonisation agenda.

“These proposals for state-ownership of the energy networks would only serve to delay the huge amount of progress and investment that is already helping to make this country a leader in the move to green energy.

“At a time when there is increased urgency to meet the challenges of climate change the last thing that is needed is the enormous distraction, cost and complexity contained in these plans.” 

The Tories said the move would hit pension funds that hold shares in the power firms, reducing the retirement income of millions of workers.

Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘Appropriation of private property. Who would be next? Why would anyone invest in Britain?’

Neil O’Brien, Conservative MP for Harborough, said: ‘Labour’s plan to literally steal from pensioners is outrageous. It’s shocking – and this is only what they admit before an election.’

Labour’s plan is for new local energy boards to take over the running of the power network. The Treasury would compensate investors, adding billions to the national debt.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s business spokesman, will announce the move during a visit to Salford with Mr Corbyn this morning. She said: ‘It’s an insult and an injustice to our people and our planet for companies operating the grid to rip customers off, line the pockets of the rich and not invest properly in renewable energy.’

Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘Appropriation of private property. Who would be next? Why would anyone invest in Britain?’

But Matthew Fell of the CBI business group said renationalisation was unaffordable, adding: ‘Loose talk of renationalisation is already hitting the pockets of nearly six million pensioners. This will only increase if the plans are delivered.

‘Much-needed investment is drying up under Labour’s threats, which seriously risk hampering efforts to tackle climate change, and puts in doubt the innovation that will deliver a net-zero carbon economy.’ 

There are 14 electricity distribution networks owned by six groups: Electricity North West, Northern Powergrid, Scottish and Southern Energy, Scottish Power Energy Networks, UK Power Networks and Western Power Distribution.

The eight gas networks are owned by SGN, Northern Gas Networks, Wales and West Utilities and Cadent Gas. 

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