Labour's free broadband pledge: BT shares fall over nationalisation policy

15 November 2019, 09:39 | Updated: 15 November 2019, 09:46

Labour have pledged to give everyone free broadband
Labour have pledged to give everyone free broadband. Picture: PA

Shares in BT have fallen by as much as 4% this morning, after Labour announced plans to part-nationalise the company.

The party wants to roll out free full-fibre broadband to every home and business by 2030 if it wins the general election.

The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have both criticised the plan as being unrealistic and too expensive.

Labour's Shadow Chancellor said the party would pay for the policy by nationalising part of BT and introducing a tax on tech companies.

The rollout would begin with communities that have the worst broadband access, including rural and remote communities, followed by towns, then by areas currently well served by superfast or ultrafast broadband.

It is estimated that it would cost £20 billion to supply the 27 million homes in the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously pledged £5 billion to bring full-fibre broadband to every home by 2025.

The government did hit its target to bring superfast broadband to 95% of homes by December 2017, at a cost of £1.7bn, but the internet speeds are significantly lower than those of full-fibre.

Jeremy Corbyn will make the announcement in a speech in Lancaster tomorrow, where he will describe the new free public service as "central to Labour's plans to transform our country and economy".

In the speech, Mr Corbyn will say: "A new public service delivering the fastest broadband free to everyone is at the heart of Labour's plans to transform the future of our economy and society.

"The internet has become such a central part of our lives. It opens up opportunities for work, creativity, entertainment and friendship.

"What was once a luxury is now an essential utility."

However, Conservative Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nicky Morgan has called the announcement a "fantasy plan".

She said: "Jeremy Corbyn's fantasy plan to effectively nationalise broadband would cost hardworking taxpayers tens of billions.

"Corbyn is clearly so desperate to distract from his party's divisions on Brexit and immigration that he will promise anything, regardless of the cost to taxpayers and whether it can actually be delivered.

"What reckless idea will be next?"