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Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell at Dover Priory station to say Labour will stop 'leeching' of money from rail services

By Sam Lennon

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell arrived in the county this morning join rail campaigners protesting against hikes in ticket prices.

Mr McDonnell said a Labour government would "end profiteering and leeching of money" from railway service as he visited Dover.

He also talked to our report about other subjects, casino councils and anti-semitisim.

Today's railway initiative was part of a national Labour Party campaign today to demand more reasonable prices and better services.

Mr McDonnell with local Labour party members and supporters
Mr McDonnell with local Labour party members and supporters

He also said a Labour government would renationalise rail services as the franchises ended or failed.

He told KentOnline: "The way that we'll pay for the investment and the cap on fares is that we'll end the profiteering.

"All those profits that go into the pockets of people like Branson and Virgin and the other profiteers, we'll end that leeching of money out of the service and we'll invest that money.

"This isn't rocket science, it happens right the way across Europe.

"What's interesting is that there are parts of our railway system that are nationalised by they've been nationalised by the French the Dutch and others and the profits they are making in this country, they're shipping back home to subsidise fares in their own country. That can't be right."

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell with Charlotte Cornell, Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Dover
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell with Charlotte Cornell, Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Dover

Mr McDonnell was greeted by local party members and supporters after he arrived at Dover Priory Station shortly after 8.30am.

These included Charlotte Cornell, Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Dover and Lee Davison, branch secretary of the Dover shipping section of the RMT union.

He joined the campaigners as they spoke to and leafletted commuters coming out of the station.

This is being done by Labour at railway stations throughout the country today.

Mr McDonnell also went with supporters to the RMT's Dover base in Snargate Street to discuss the issue.

John McDonnell at Dover station this morning
John McDonnell at Dover station this morning

Mr McDonnell added: "The solution is fairly obviously. We bring rail back into public ownership.

"The feedback we are getting right the way across is that people want rail back into public ownership so it is properly managed.

"Opinion poll after opinion poll now is saying 70 to 80% support for bringing rail back into public ownership.

"Once we get into government that will be one of our first priorities."

The government last month confirmed that rail fares will rise by 3.2% next year.

The increase will take effect from January and is below the 3.5% increase that had been predicted.

Ticket prices increased by 3.6% this year, the biggest jump for five years.

Many Kent commuters using High Speed trains are already paying a premium for season tickets and the fares are among the highest in Europe.

The rail fare increase is based on the Retail Price Index, which was 3.2% in July.

A current annual season ticket from Ashford International to London, including use of High Speed trains and the underground, is £7,148.

Mr McDonnell was also asked about whether the current anti-Semitism row that is tearing into the Labour Party could harm its electoral chances in Kent.

His comments are in the enclosed video.

The county has only one Labour MP, in Canterbury, when 15 years ago, during the Blair era, it had eight, including Gwyn Prosser in Dover.

He said the issue was never about electoral advantage but tackling the prejudice.

He was also asked about so-called casino council.

These are councils that invest in areas such as property but the risk in losing in that investment.

A council is Surrey brought the site of a House of Fraser store for £17.6 million and then the retailer went into administration.

Local authorities do this to find other income when they have fewer government grants and capped council tax rises.

Mr McDonnell said Labour would restore central government funding.

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