'Bring it on!' Angela Rayner claims Jeremy Corbyn has 'nothing to fear' from the Tories OR the Brexit Party in Leave-voting Labour seats like hers

  • Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner laid down the gauntlet to rivals
  • She told Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage to 'bring it on' at the general election
  • Comes after Mr Farage stood aside in seats won by Tories at 2017 election 
  • Labour Party today set out numerous general election education promises 
  • But plan for free meals for primary school pupils was plunged into uncertainty
  • Labour Party would pay for policy by applying VAT to all private school fees
  • Labour activists voted at conference in September to abolish private schools 

Angela Rayner taunted Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage today as she said Labour had nothing to fear from the Tories or the Brexit Party in its northern heartlands seats like hers. 

Mr Farage announced yesterday he will stand his candidates down in the 317 seats the Tories won in 2017 to give Mr Johnson a better chance at winning a majority. 

The Brexit Party will instead focus its election efforts on trying to win Leave-voting Labour-held constituencies. 

But Ms Rayner, the shadow education secretary, laid down the gauntlet to Mr Johnson and Mr Farage as she said after delivering a speech in Blackpool: 'Bring it on.'

Answering a question about what Mr Farage's decision could mean for Labour's hopes of retaining seats on December 12, Ms Rayner said: 'I don't fear the Brexit Party. 

'I have been disgusted by what some in the Brexit Party and in the Conservatives including our Prime Minister have said to try and divide communities like ours in the north west.' 

She added: 'I don't fear the Brexit Party or Boris Johnson. Bring it on.'  

Ms Rayner has held the Ashton-under-Lyne seat near Manchester since 2015 and in 2017 she won a majority of just over 11,000. The area voted 62 to 38 in favour of Leave at the EU referendum in 2016.

However, there are numerous Labour-held Brexit-backing seats where the party has a much smaller majority and they will be heavily targeted by Mr Johnson and Mr Farage in the run up to polling day. 

Ms Rayner and Jeremy Corbyn today set out the party's education pledges - but one of Labour's policies was immediately plunged into uncertainty. 

Mr Corbyn said during his speech that Labour would provide a free school meal for every child in primary school, paid for by applying VAT to private school fees. 

But Labour activists voted at the party's annual conference at the end of September to abolish all private schools. 

Angela Rayner used a speech in Blackpool today to set out Labour's education plans as she also laid down the gauntlet to the Tories and the Brexit Party

Angela Rayner used a speech in Blackpool today to set out Labour's education plans as she also laid down the gauntlet to the Tories and the Brexit Party

Mr Corbyn said Labour would give free meals to all primary school pupils paid for by putting VAT on private school fees

Mr Corbyn said Labour would give free meals to all primary school pupils paid for by putting VAT on private school fees 

These are 40 Labour-held seats where the Tories were in second place at the last election (index below) - and a Brexit Party candidate could potentially prevent them from turning blue on December 12. Many of them are also Leave voting seats in the north of England where the Conservatives are very unlikely to stand aside Nigel Farage in a potential further pact because the Tories are so close to victory

Asked if he intended to honour that conference vote in the party's election manifesto, Mr Corbyn said people would have to wait for the blueprint to be published following a crunch meeting this weekend.

Responding to a question on the subject, he said: 'As to other aspects of the education policy we have our meeting this weekend to finally put together all the contents of our manifesto so I have to ask you to contain your excitement for a few more days until the manifesto itself has been released. 

'But I can let you into one secret: You are going to love it.' 

Activists voted at Labour conference in favour of a motion which committed the party to integrating the private education sector into the state sector. 

Senior party sources said at the time that Mr Corbyn and the Labour leadership would abide by policy decisions made by conference delegates. 

It is unclear how Labour will square the conference vote with Mr Corbyn's plan to use VAT on private school fees to pay for primary school free school meals. 

The Labour leader used his big address to set out his plans to establish a National Education Service and to ensure every community has a Sure Start children's centre. 

He also confirmed proposals to introduce 30 hours of free childcare for all two, three and four year olds and to abolish tuition fees.  

Labour's National Education Service would mean every adult would be entitled to six years of free study for undergraduate degrees and equivalents such as diplomas and foundation degrees. 

The entitlement would also be extended to certificates and diplomas of higher education in areas such as engineering, nursing and accounting.

Any adult without an A-level or equivalent qualification would be able to attend college and study them for free. 

Mr Corbyn said education should be like 'an escalator running alongside you throughout life that you can get on and off whenever you want'. 

Labour is proposing free A-level access for adults and grants for low-earners to make sure education is available to people from the 'cradle-to-grave'. 

Ms Rayner said in her speech today that Labour will introduce a 'new, fully funded right to lifelong learning'.

She added: 'Too often we talk about education simply as a means for people to get a job and there is no doubt that this is important. 

'But there is no true value in a strong economy if we are not giving people a life worth living.' 

The Tories have criticised Labour's education plans and questioned where the money would come from to pay for them. 

But Ms Rayner hit back and said: 'The Conservatives say that we cannot afford these measures. They are wrong. We cannot afford not to do it.' 

Ms Rayner, pictured alongside Mr Corbyn in Blackpool, said earlier this morning that Labour would scrap tuition fees 'no ifs, no buts'

Ms Rayner, pictured alongside Mr Corbyn in Blackpool, said earlier this morning that Labour would scrap tuition fees 'no ifs, no buts' 

Nigel Farage
Boris Johnson

Nigel Farage yesterday announced his candidates will not stand in seats won by the Tories in 2017 as he delivered a boost to Boris Johnson

Earlier today Ms Rayner confirmed Labour still intended to scrap university tuition fees 'no ifs, no buts' as she also pledged to crack down on high pay among those running the institutions.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'If Labour gets into power on December 13, we will abolish tuition fees, no ifs, no buts.

'Students at the moment are leaving university with £57,000 worth of debt, that is not sustainable.

'Our country needs those skills for the future and Labour will reverse that trend and ensure that we have the skills for the future through adult education as well as university education.'

On vice-chancellor pay, she said: 'I absolutely agree that vice-chancellors might not like what I'm saying because I'm saying that vice-chancellors are paid too much and are unaccountable for that pay, and I'll crack down on that.'

Angela Rayner taunts Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage over election 'pact'

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