LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May is offering voters a retreat from globalisation in one of the most significant developments in recent British political history, former Chancellor George Osborne said on Saturday.
Osborne, who was sacked by May as Chancellor after the June 23 Brexit vote, criticised May’s plan to cut annual net migration to the tens of thousands and said her pre-election social care proposals were clearly badly thought through.
May rejected “untrammeled free markets” and promised to rein in corporate excesses in pre-election pledges earlier this month. The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has pledged to nationalise water, mail and rail companies.
“Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are offering, in very different ways, a retreat from international liberalism and globalisation,” Osborne, who now edits the Evening Standard newspaper, told the BBC.
“And that’s quite a development in British politics, and I think there are quite a lot of people who are uncertain whether that is the right development,” he said.
May last year praised free markets and free trade in a speech to party activists but also said that she would be prepared to intervene where markets were dysfunctional or where companies were exploiting the failures of the market.
On his first day as a newspaper editor earlier this month, Osborne taunted May over her snap election strategy and “unrealistic” Brexit stance.
Once considered a potential future prime minister, the 46-year-old was dismissed last year by fellow-Conservative May after helping to lead the doomed campaign for Britain to stay in the European Union.
In addition to his job as an editor, Osborne has a part-time job with a salary of 650,000 pounds ($832,000) a year for working 48 days at asset manager BlackRock, and has earned hundreds of thousands of pounds giving speeches.
Osborne was critical of May’s plan to reduce immigration.
“Which section of industry is not going to have the labour it currently needs? Which families are not going to be able to be reunited with members of their families abroad?” he told the BBC.
(This story refiles to remove redundant word from lead.)
Editing by Guy Faulconbridge