Jeremy Corbyn has come under attack for launching a four-day tour of Scotland to promote his post-Brexit “built it in Britain” economic message at a major Scottish manufacturer that has warned about the impact of leaving the single European market.
The Labour leader will pledge to revive British industry after the UK leaves the EU during a visit to Alexander Dennis, the Falkirk bus maker that said a hard Brexit would hold back its growth.
Mr Corbyn will commit a Labour government to “reprogramme the economy” and “deliver an industrial renaissance for Scotland” by ensuring government contracts benefit local manufacturers.
But the SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford accused Mr Corbyn of a “total betrayal of working people” for refusing to back remaining in the single market and customs union.
Labour has put revitalising the UK’s industrial sector at the heart of its post-Brexit economic plan.
Mr Corbyn has consistently argued that EU state aid rules make it harder for British governments to support domestic industry, leading to major public investment going overseas.
In a speech in July, Mr Corbyn said that, under Labour, the UK “will build things here again that for too long have been built abroad because we have failed to invest… doing this will allow us to have greater control over the economy”.
However, critics have accused the Labour leader of embracing protectionism, and have pointed to support for state-run public services and domestic industrial production in other European economies.
While in Scotland, Mr Corbyn is expected highlight the case of Burntisland Fabrications, the Fife engineering firm specialising in offshore wind power that has effectively been forced to close with a loss of hundreds of jobs. “The Tories have overseen the decline of our industries and farmed out major public contracts overseas which could have supported jobs at home,” the Labour leader said ahead of his visit.
“Meanwhile the SNP government has not done nearly enough to grow Scotland’s industrial base or the green economy.”
Mr Corbyn added that Labour would “use the public sector’s enormous buying power to support workers and industries by buying in Britain whenever possible.”
But the Labour leader’s choice of Alexander Dennis to start his trip to Scotland drew criticism, after the company’s chief executive told The Scotsman in June that leaving the single market and customs union would harm export opportunities in the EU and drive up the cost of vital components in its supply chain.
Mr Blackford claimed the Labour Party backed a “jobs-destroying Tory hard Brexit” that posed “by far the biggest threat to Scotland’s economy and long term prosperity”.
“It is a total betrayal of working people, who have already been hit in the pocket by Brexit as prices rise, and it would be catastrophic for Scottish businesses and economic growth,” the SNP MP said.
“A hard Brexit could hit Scottish GDP by up to 9 per cent – costing Scotland over £12.7 billion a year, a loss equivalent to over £2,300 for every person in the country, with around 80,000 jobs at stake.”
Mr Blackford added: “Instead of backing the Tories once again, Labour must finally join the SNP in fighting to protect our crucial membership of the EU single market and customs union.”
Mr Corbyn will also attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival today, where he will take part in a Q&A with the former Greek finance minister Yiannis Varoufakis on The Resurgence of Socialism.