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Election 2017: Labour Gives UK Tech Brexit Assurances & Ultrafast Broadband Pledge

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Labour would seek to ensure UK tech firms have access to talents and market, while it would also work to ensure 4G, 5G and ultrafast broadband

Labour has said it would ensure digital services are not inhibited by national borders imposed by the UK’s pending exit from the European Union (EU) if it wins the 2017 General Election.

The party’s manifesto said that although it accepted the result of last year’s referendum, it would endeavour to ensure the UK remained part of the Single Market and to guarantee the rights of EU citizens – something which will be music to the ears of the technology industry.

If elected, Labour would invest in R&D using a National Investment Bank and would aim to keep the UK within EU research initiatives like Horizon 2020.

Jeremy Corbyn 2

Labour technology policy

Tech and science would also benefit from a wider £250 billion ‘National Transformation’ fund, while technical education would be available to all of society.

The manifesto was lighter on technology specifics than the one published by the Conservatives, but did include a pledge to create a ‘Digital Ambassador’ and councils for strategic industries, which might include IT.

Labour also promised to have the highest number of ‘high skilled jobs’ within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development by 2030.

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“We will appoint a Digital Ambassador to liaise with technology companies to promote Britain as an attractive place for investment and provide support for start-ups to scale up to become world-class digital businesses,” read the document. “Our Digital Ambassador will help to ensure businesses are ready to grow and prosper in the digital age.”

In terms of connectivity, Labour has committed to a broadband universal service obligation (USO), improved 4G connectivity across the UK (including on major rail and rail routes), support for 5G and Wi-Fi in libraries.

It has also pledged to push ultrafast broadband, although BT Openreach has promised to bring G.Fast or fibre to the premise (FTTP) to the ‘majority’ of the UK within a decade.

“On day one we will instruct the National Infrastructure Commission to report on how to roll out ‘ultrafast’ (300Mbps) across the UK within the next decade,” said Labour.

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