British Labor Party, PM Johnson clash over plan for free Internet

With less than a month left before Britain’s new parliamentary elections, the minority Labor Party announced a plan Friday to make broadband Internet access free — a concept Prime Minister Boris Johnson denounced as “crackpot.”

Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the broadband plan is one of the most “radical” and “exciting” Britain has ever seen. File Photo by Hugo Philpott

Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn laid out the plan, which he said would cost about $26 billion. He also said universal broadband Internet in Britain could be achieved by 2030.

“What was once a luxury is now an essential utility,” Corbyn said. “I think it’s too important to be left to the corporations. Only the government has the planning ability, economies of scale and ambition to take this on.”

Ahead of Britain’s Dec. 12 elections, all political parties are now in full campaign mode.

“I don’t want anyone to be able to say, a few years into a Labor government, that nothing ever changes or that politicians are all the same,” he added.

BT, which provides broadband and mobile services in Britain, put the cost of the party’s plan closer to $130 billion.

“These are very, very ambitious ideas and the Conservative Party have their own ambitious idea for full fiber for everyone by 2025 and how we do it is not straight forward,’ BT CEO Philip Jansen said. “It needs funding, it is very big numbers.”

Johnson dismissed the plan as outlandish.

“What we are going to deliver is gigabyte broadband for all and what we won’t be doing is some crackpot scheme that would involve many, many tens of billions of taxpayers’ money nationalizing a British business,” the prime minister said.

ByClyde Hughes