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Starmer ‘to announce scaling back of Labour’s £28 billion-a-year green pledge’

07 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Photo Jacob King/PA Wire

Labour will reportedly abandon its policy of spending £28 billion a year on environmental projects in a major U-turn following months of uncertainty about the pledge.

An announcement on the party’s flagship green prosperity plan is expected to be made on Thursday.

Sir Keir Starmer is due to confirm that the pledge is being scaled back due to the changed economic landscape since it was first unveiled in 2021, according to multiple reports.

Last year, Labour adjusted its original plan by saying the £28 billion-a-year spending target would likely be met in the second half of a first parliament, rather than immediately, if the party wins the next election.

Fiscal rules

The party has since insisted the pledge is subject to its fiscal rules, which include getting debt falling as a percentage of GDP, as it seeks to reassure voters it would be responsible with the economy in government.

Confusion over the future of the policy has grown in recent weeks as some senior figures refused to refer to the £28 billion-a-year figure, while party leader Sir Keir continued to do so as recently as Tuesday.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has repeatedly declined to recommit to the spending pledge, instead highlighting the need for “iron discipline” with the public finances.

But earlier this week, Sir Keir said the money was “desperately needed” for the party’s key mission to achieve clean power by 2030.

The Conservatives have also seized on the figure as a key attack line in the run-up to an election this year, claiming Labour would ultimately have to raise taxes to meet the “unfunded spending spree”.

Labour has pointed to recent economic turmoil under the Tories, including the turbulence caused by Liz Truss’ mini-budget in 2022, when accused of watering down its flagship environmental pledge.

It was first announced in September 2021 by Ms Reeves, who at the time committed to spending an extra £28 billion each year to help Britain tackle climate change if the party wins power.


The U-turn would come after the Tories claimed an official Treasury costing had suggested that part of the plan – to upgrade insulation for 19 million homes – would cost more than double the party’s estimate of £6 billion.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott said: “This is a serious moment which confirms Labour have no plan for the UK, creating uncertainty for business and our economy. On the day that Labour are finalising their manifesto, Keir Starmer is torpedoing what he has claimed to be his central economic policy purely for short-term campaigning reasons.

“He must explain how he can keep the £28 billion spending when he is finally admitting he doesn’t have a plan to pay for it.

“This black hole will inevitably mean thousands of pounds in higher taxes for working people. That’s why Labour will take Britain back to square one.”

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: “Keir Starmer’s damaging decision to cut energy investment will destroy Scottish jobs, harm economic growth and hit families in the pocket by keeping energy bills high.

“It’s a weak and short-sighted U-turn, which shows Westminster is incapable of delivering the investment Scotland needs to compete in the global green energy gold rush and secure strong economic growth.

“As our partners and allies across the world press ahead with investment to attract jobs and secure economic and energy security, the UK has turned away. It’s as depressing as it is predictable.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
14 days ago

Sunak reads off a script in PMQs, who are these faceless people who write them, how much are they edited by Gove. The same goes for Starmer, who writes his script? These unelected mini Cummings continue to have a damaging effect on the UK, at home and abroad. I suspect there must be a cohort in the Senedd or is it down to a few senior Solicitor Politicians. So refreshing to read that Ben Lake is a historian at heart…

14 days ago

Coffers must be really bad. I think the opposition start to get to see the books in election years, or rather some of the books? Then I assume they have to be very careful with unintended disclosure cos markets and all. I wonder if we are seeing the state of the nation via opposition re aligning aspirations as they get info they are not allowed to disclose.

But lets face it, the Tory party record here is non existent and beholden to the like of BP to call the shots. Labour still sound far better than the Cons.

14 days ago

Absolutely no guts to take on the, frankly unhinged, right wing narratives and damaging economic ideologies that pass for politics in the UK today. Starmer and co have calculated that to win the next GE, they must lurch to the right. Well if that’s the strategy, all the more reason to get Wales out of the UK. Wales is tremendously well placed to benefit from a green transition. With a wealth of renewable energy resources to the raw minerals needed for manufacturing, we should be creating a pile of good jobs. Why are we always waiting on others to do… Read more »

14 days ago

This was the only major policy difference with the Tories and now it is being scrapped. Another U turn Starmer is now the only Labour leader ever to go into an election offering nothing significantly different to the Tories because he is terrified of being criticised. Beware voters keep your expectations very low after the next general election.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
14 days ago

It is a blue phone box that ‘Clark Kent’ can’t find his way out of…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
14 days ago

If Starmer was in the Oxbridge Boat Race he would finish up at London Bridge…

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