Jeremy Corbyn has said he would like to place a legal limit on the amount of money people can earn, as he made his first major intervention of the year.
The Labour leader said this morning that a wage cap would be a fair way to tackle the level of inequality in the country.
“We have the worst levels of income disparity of most of the OECD countries, in this country, it is getting worse,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“If we want to live in a more egalitarian society and fund our public services we can not go on creating worse levels of inequality.”
His suggestion has overshadowed a day which was billed as being devoted to Labour’s plan for Brexit.
Corbyn said: “I would like there to be some sort of high earnings cap - quite honestly. I would like to see a maximum earnings limit, quite honestly, because I think that would be a fairer thing to do.”
Corbyn said he was not “wedded to a figure” of what the cap would be but wanted it to be looked into.
Asked by Sky News if the cap should be set at his £138,000 salary, Corbyn said it should be “somewhat higher than that”.
Corbyn, an Arsenal fan, added he thought the “salaries paid to footballer are simply ridiculous”.
“Arsène Wenger is a man who is an accountant at heart. And I think he would probably like it very much indeed. He would probably like there to be maximum wage cap on the premier league,” the Labour leader added.
Following Corbyn’s suggestion of a maximum wage, Labour MP John Mann said it should be applied to the party.
However former shadow minister Emma Reynolds said she disagreed with her leader.
“I’m not sure that I would support that. I would like to see the detail. I think there are other ways that you can go about tackling income inequality, and I think he’s right to highlight that as something we need to tackle ... Instinctively, I don’t think [a cap] probably the best way to go.
Stewart Wood, who was a key adviser to Ed Miliband as Labour leader, said a maximum wage cap was “unworkable”.
And economist Danny Blanchflower, who had served as an advisor to Corbyn’s Labour Party, said the plan was “unworkable”.
Corbyn’s comments came ahead of his first speech of the year in which he is due to declare “Britain can be better off after Brexit”.
However he appears to have already backtracked on suggestions he is prepared to take a tougher line on immigration.
In his speech, Corbyn is due to say Labour is “not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle”.
The line, released overnight led many to conclude he had decided to relax his previous staunch commitment to the principle.
However speaking to Today, he said Labour was “not saying anyone couldn’t come here”. And he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain there was “not a sea change” in his view.
Corbyn has argued that dealing with the exploitation of migrant workers by British companies would have the effect of reducing immigration even if there was no deliberate policy of bringing the numbers down.
He has been under pressure from Labour MPs to concede many voters believe immigration is too high and must be brought down in the wake of the Brexit vote.