“Corbyn made his case for public ownership of utilities”

Westminster was taking what felt like a very well-timed break this week in the form of a mini-recess, giving the Commons a relaxed air on Monday morning.

But while MPs had dispersed to their constituencies, the drip-drip of sexual harassment accusations continued. As Utility Week went to press, no fewer than seven Conservative MPs were under investigation, raising the possibility of a series of tricky by-elections. And two Labour MPs are also in hot water.

For the government, the prospect of by-elections is worrying given that it relies on the Democratic Unionists to pass its business. Each Tory by-election loss means Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party is potentially a step closer to power.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey curiously didn’t mention Labour’s utility public ownership plans when she made a keynote speech at the Energy UK conference. That may have led some to wonder whether Labour was serious about its manifesto commitment.

But the Labour leader dispelled any such doubts at this week’s CBI conference where he made the case for bringing utilities back into public ownership.

Responding to chancellor Philip Hammond’s jibe that Labour wants to take Britain back to the 1970s, Corbyn argued that Labour’s proposals weren’t a throwback to a bygone era but about benefiting business by providing cheap and reliable power.
Amid the febrile state of politics, utilities had better work out what they can do to ward off the threat of public ownership before it is too late.