Britain's Bernie Sanders wants huge tax hike to make college free

TransferWise CEO worries about Trump and Brexit
TransferWise CEO worries about Trump and Brexit

The socialist leader of Britain's main opposition party wants to hike taxes on businesses and the rich to fund a huge increase in spending on education and health care.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn unveiled an election manifesto on Tuesday that calls for tax increases of nearly £49 billion ($63 billion) a year.

The biggest single new spending commitment? £11 billion ($14 billion) to scrap college tuition fees and restore grants that help students with living expenses. Most U.K. universities charge £9,250 ($12,000) a year in tuition.

The proposal also calls for £5 billion ($6.4 billion) in spending on health care that would, among other things, make car parking free at hospitals.

Brits will vote in a general election on June 8. Opinion polls show Labour trailing far behind Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party, although recent surveys suggest the gap may be narrowing.

May has in recent weeks pressed her advantage, seeking to appeal to blue-collar workers and union members who have traditionally voted Labour. A big win for the prime minister would strengthen her position as she prepares to negotiate Britain's departure from the European Union. Her party has not yet released its election platform.

Related: The harsh reality of Brexit is finally setting in

The manifesto published Tuesday by Corbyn's team is full of red meat that will appeal to his core supporters.

The current 45% top rate of income tax would apply to earnings over £80,000 ($103,000) a year, down from £150,000 ($193,000) at present. Labour would also introduce a new top rate of 50% on income above £123,000 ($159,000). It hopes to raise £6.4 billion with those changes.

Labour also plans to squeeze nearly £20 billion ($26 billion) out of businesses. The base tax rate paid by corporations would increase to 21%, from 19% at present, and then to 26% by the start of the next decade.

Related: Trump's 15% business tax would be lowest for a big economy

In addition to free college tuition and improvements to health care, Corbyn would lift a public sector pay cap while doubling paternity pay and time off.

The plans drew a swift rebuke from business groups.

Related: The $1.5 trillion business that London could lose to Europe

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that while some specific proposals would help smaller businesses, the package as a whole was cause for concern.

"High personal taxation, sweeping nationalization and deep intervention in business decision-making are not the hallmarks of an ambitious and enterprising society," he said in a statement.

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