Keir Starmer confirms Labour will drop pledge to scrap university tuition fees

Sir Keir Starmer has confirmed Labour will likely drop its promise to scrap tuition fees at the next election in a reversal of previous manifesto commitments.

During his campaign to become the party’s leader, Sir Keir had pledged he would “support the abolition of tuition fees”. It was also included in Labour’s last two general election manifestos.

But, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said that the party would likely “move on” from the pledge and seek to “set out a fairer solution” in order to tackle the struggling UK economy.

The Labour leader said: “We are looking at options for how we fund these fees. The current system is unfair, it doesn’t really work for students, doesn’t work for universities.

“We are likely to move on from that commitment because we do find ourselves in a different financial situation.”

He insisted that he did not “want that to be read as us accepting for a moment that the current system is fair or that it is working”.

The Times first reported on Tuesday morning that Labour was reconsidering the pledge, and a source told the paper: “At a time when we’re being so careful about spending commitments, it’s a glaring anomaly that we still haven’t moved on tuition fees.”

They added that it was “one of the remaining commitments from 2019 that we will be clear we have moved on from”.

Sir Keir’s promise to scrap tuition fees formed part of his 10 pledges made during his campaign to become the party’s next leader.

He has faced criticism for dropping many of these commitments, but insisted earlier this year that the pledges “haven’t all been abandoned by any stretch of the imagination”.

Asked by The Times in January about his plans for tuition fees, Sir Keir said: “We have got a number of propositions in relation to those fees that we will put forward as we go into the election.

“But I have to be honest about it, the damage that has been done to our economy means that we are going to have to cost everything as we go into that election and we will do that with discipline”

The maximum fee for an undergraduate is currently £9,250 a year, and the decision to raise fees from £3,000 to £9,000 in 2010 sparked mass protests.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband proposed that Labour would cut the fees down to £6,000 during the 2015 general election campaign.

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