Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has given the strongest indication yet that he will reintroduce the party's bedrock principle Clause IV and commit to "common ownership of the means of production".

The move could force former public-owned companies such as Network Rail and possibly privatised utility firms and rail franchises back into government control should they breach their contractual obligations.

Speaking to the Independent on Sunday, Corbyn said he would consider bringing back the clause to take some "necessary things" back into public hands.

He said that the party should talk about its key objectives and should discuss whether or not to restore Clause IV to the party's manifesto "as it was originally written" or in a different form.
"I think we shouldn't shy away from public participation, public investment in industry and public control of the railways," he told the newspaper.

This would mean that the seasoned left-winger would be prepared to reverse a decision made by the then party leader Tony Blair to abolish the clause, under the auspices of a remarketing of the Labour standard, two decades ago.

After Corbyn's comments appeared in the Independent On Sunday, a spokesperson from his campaign told The Guardian the leadership candidate was not saying he wanted a return to "the old clause IV" and that he did not want "a big 'moment' such as that".

Blair rebranded the fundamental Labour principle that was redesigned to make the party more electable in 1995.

The new wording of the replacement for Clause IV read: "The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect."

The race for the Labour leadership began on Friday 14 August and will close on Thursday 10 September with the results announced on Saturday 12 September.

Corbyn will be standing against Liz Kendall MP for Leicester West, Yvette Cooper MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford and Andy Burnham MP for Leigh and Shadow Secretary for Health.

Burnham has promised to renationalise Britain's railways "line by line" if he becomes Prime Minister.