In Brief

Labour Party will ban Airbnb, says Tory minister

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss says Conservatives are ‘true party of young people’

Labour will ban start-ups such as Airbnb and Uber, a government minister has warned as the Conservatives look to position themselves as the political champions of the gig economy.

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss insists that the Tory party is “the true party of young people, as it allows them to innovate in the new economy”.

Truss warns that should Labour win power, they will either ban the likes of Uber or stifle them with regulation so they fail, and points to Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan’s battle with the ride-sharing app in London.

Labour backbencher Karen Buck recently introduced a bill targeting Airbnb that aims to limit the number of days in a year for which a property can be let.

In an article for the i newspaper, Buck wrote: “Let’s embrace the sharing economy, but be under no illusions either - unless it is properly managed, it is neighbours, communities and people in need of housing who end up paying the price.”

Truss says she rejects this way of thinking and writes: “Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have made no secret of their desire to stamp out individualism and enterprise. They call businesses the ‘real enemy’. Their supporters hound dissenters and label them ‘traitors’.

“And they openly call for government to take more control over the economy and our lives. We can already see their controlling ways in councils across the country: anyone sensible abused until they’re booted out or quit, services like AirBnB and Uber banned, new schemes dreamt up for hiking tax.”

She adds: “The free market is fundamentally humane and democratic, driven by ideas and millions of individual choices about what to do with our money which defy those who benefit from the status quo.”

The Guardian’s Larry Elliott disagrees, arguing that Britain’s “flexible labour market” has resulted in “the development of a particular sort of economy over the past decade: low productivity, low investment and low wage”.

The growth of the gig economy, coupled with “weak enforcement of labour market regulations, a tax treatment that provides incentives for employers to hire self-employed workers, and pay restraint in the public sector, explain why the past ten years have seen the weakest real wage growth since just after the Napoleonic war”, Elliott says.

Truss’s warning comes ahead of local elections in which the Conservatives are expected to suffer heavy losses.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s election campaign chief, cautions against complacency, however. He told The Guardian that there was a danger that young voters who backed Labour at the general election would stay at home.

“That’s why we’ve been trying to make the case that local councils have a big impact on young people’s lives,” he said. “It is so important for young people not to leave local elections just to the over-55s.”

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