Election debate: Corbyn vows to axe £30bn student debt

1 Jun

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to reduce or even write off £30billion of student debt, without saying how it would be paid for.

In another costly spending commitment aimed at younger voters, Mr Corbyn said he wanted to ‘ameliorate’ the debt owed by thousands of students who paid fees of £9,000 a year.

He said students who went to university after higher fees were introduced were victims of a ‘historical misfortune’.

But the Labour leader admitted he did not have a ‘simple answer’ for how to deal with the problem, and had no explanation for how it would be funded.

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) has pledged to reduce or even write off £30billion of student debt

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) has pledged to reduce or even write off £30billion of student debt

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) has pledged to reduce or even write off £30billion of student debt

Independent analysis of the scale of the debt racked up since higher fees were introduced in 2012 suggests it is now as high as £30billion.

The estimate by the Institute for Fiscal Studies said clearing or reducing the debts would be ‘extremely costly’.

Mr Corbyn told weekly music magazine NME: ‘Yes, there is a block of those that currently have a massive debt, and I’m looking at ways we could reduce that, ameliorate that, lengthen the period of paying it off, or some other means of reducing the debt burden.’ 

But he added: ‘I don’t have the simple answer for it at this stage. I don’t think anybody would expect me to, because this election was called unexpectedly.

‘We had two weeks to prepare all of this – but I’m very well aware of that problem.

‘And I don’t see why those that had the historical misfortune to be at university during the £9,000 period should be burdened excessively compared to those that went before or those that come after. I will deal with it.’

Corbyn said students who went to university after higher fees were introduced were victims of a 'historical misfortune'

Corbyn said students who went to university after higher fees were introduced were victims of a 'historical misfortune'

Corbyn said students who went to university after higher fees were introduced were victims of a ‘historical misfortune’

SNP COALITION DEAL IS STILL ON THE CARDS 

Jeremy Corbyn yesterday left the door open for a ‘coalition of chaos’ to secure the job of prime minister.

The Labour leader ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP but sidestepped questions about looser arrangements which could see him take the keys to No 10.

His comments came after YouGov polling suggested the June 8 vote could result in no party gaining an overall majority. Mr Corbyn insisted he was ‘doing no deals, no coalitions’ and was ‘fighting to win this election’.

But pressed on whether he would strike a deal once the results came in, he told ITV News: ‘You’d better ask me on June 9.’

Corbyn ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP (leader Nicola Sturgeon pictured )but sidestepped questions about looser arrangements which could see him take the keys to No 10.

Corbyn ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP (leader Nicola Sturgeon pictured )but sidestepped questions about looser arrangements which could see him take the keys to No 10.

Corbyn ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP (leader Nicola Sturgeon pictured )but sidestepped questions about looser arrangements which could see him take the keys to No 10.

Mr Corbyn was earlier challenged about whether he would be open to a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the SNP, which would see Nicola Sturgeon’s party offer limited support to a Labour government.

Such a deal could see the SNP backing a minority Labour government in Commons votes on motions of confidence and the budget. Speaking in Bath yesterday, Theresa May said a vote for Mr Corbyn would result in a ‘chaotic hung parliament’ with the Lib Dems and Scottish Nationalists ‘pulling the strings’.

She added: ‘I think we should all worry about the alternative [to a Tory majority].

‘The alternative is the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn being prime minister and John McDonnell being in charge of our economic future and Diane Abbott in charge of our national security.’

On the subject of tackling student debt, the IFS said in May: ‘One option would be to compensate these students by clearing or reducing their tuition fee debts.

‘This would be extremely costly, however, as the outstanding stock of loans for these graduates is around £30billion.’

Labour has already pledged to axe tuition fees – costing £7.5billion a year.

The party has also promised to restore maintenance grants, taking the full cost of its pledges on higher education to £11.2billion.

Vice-chancellors have warned that the plans could be damaging for universities.

In the interview, Mr Corbyn also proposed, as an anti-knife crime measure, ‘searching shrubberies and flower beds and parks where people have been stashing knives’.

He said that his all-time favourite song was Imagine by John Lennon and that he preferred the band Oasis to rivals Blur.

The magazine described him as an ‘un-politician-looking fella with a neat white beard, loose trousers and comfy shoes’.

Lib Dem retreat in bid to save leader Tim Farron

The Liberal Democrats scaled back their national campaign last night as senior figures battled to hold on to the party’s few remaining strongholds.

With just a week until polling day, the party’s election ‘battlebus’ will be parked up for the next 48 hours to allow senior figures to spend more time in their own constituencies. 

Party sources last night insisted they had not given up despite struggling to break double figures in the polls.

But, in a sign of the threat they face, even party leader Tim Farron will be pinned down in his own constituency, making two visits to the Cumbrian seat in just 48 hours.

The Liberal Democrats (leader Tim Farron pictured) scaled back their national campaign last night as senior figures battled to hold on to the party's few remaining strongholds

The Liberal Democrats (leader Tim Farron pictured) scaled back their national campaign last night as senior figures battled to hold on to the party's few remaining strongholds

The Liberal Democrats (leader Tim Farron pictured) scaled back their national campaign last night as senior figures battled to hold on to the party’s few remaining strongholds

Instead, former leader Nick Clegg has been wheeled out to front up events. 

The new strategy marks a major disappointment for the Lib Dems who boasted that public disaffection with Brexit would see them returned to Westminster in large numbers.

Mr Farron faces a significant threat from the Tories in the seat of Westmorland and Lonsdale. The party leader is retreating to his constituency on Saturday and will remain there over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Norman Lamb, their health spokesman, is in North Norfolk fighting off a Tory onslaught.

He was supposed to have attended a mental health event with Mr Farron on Monday but it was cancelled at short notice, apparently due to issues with the poster bus. 

The Lib Dem battlebus will be parked up for the next two days despite it being a crucial time in the final stretch of campaigning.

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