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Labour to ditch £28bn green prosperity plan, Sky News understands | Politics News

Labour will announce on Thursday that it is scaling back its flagship green prosperity plan, Sky News understands.

The policy will not be dropped altogether, but the party is ditching the financial target to spend £28bn a year on environmental schemes.

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Labour will put this down to uncertain public finances and is also likely to say that this is the outcome of finalising ideas for their manifesto for the next general election, expected later this year.

The major U-turn comes after weeks of confusion surrounding the policy.

Last week, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves refused to commit to the spending target 10 times when asked by Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby if the pledge remained in place.

However earlier on Wednesday, Sir Chris Bryant, a shadow digital minister, told Sky News that “we are doing it” – adding that “it will be £28bn”.

And the day before, party leader Sir Keir Starmer also insisted he was not scaling back on the pledge, telling Times Radio: “We want to have clean power by 2030… that’s where the £28bn comes in.

“That investment is desperately needed for that mission and I’ve been unwavering in relation to mission clean power by 2030.”

The muddled briefings have led to speculation of a split between Sir Keir and Ms Reeves.

The pledge to spend £28bn a year on environmental projects, like offshore wind farms and electric vehicles, was first made in 2021 as part of a promise that Labour would be the greenest government in history were it to win the keys to Number 10.

But it was watered down last year to be a target to work towards, rather than a day-one commitment, with Ms Reeves blaming rising interest rates and the “damage” the Conservatives had done to the economy for the change in direction.

The costly pledge has long been used by the Tories to criticise Labour’s fiscal responsibility, following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to scrap a number of the government’s own green pledges.

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Rachel Reeves refuses to commit to Labour’s pledge of investing £28bn in green technologies

Labour is said to be divided on the matter, with some shadow ministers arguing the policy plays into Conservative attacks on its economic credibility, and others fearing ditching it will accentuate the feeling that Sir Keir has rowed back on the majority of his key pledges.

Since becoming Labour leader, Sir Keir has U-turned on policies including ditching university tuition fees, nationalising public utilities, increasing income tax for the top 5% of earners and abolishing Universal Credit.

A spokesperson for Momentum, the left-wing pressure group, said: “This latest Starmer U-turn represents yet another capitulation to right-wing interests.

“In doing so, Starmer isn’t just breaking another promise – he is defying the consensus among Labour members unions, voters and economists for a major green investment boost to tackle the climate crisis and create jobs in every corner of the country.”

The Tories also attacked the change in direction, with Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Laura Trott, saying it creates “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,” Ms Trott said.

Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “Labour have chosen to wear their fiscal rules as a millstone around their neck.

“A different approach through tax reforms, in particular by introducing a wealth tax on the super-rich, could help pay for the green transition.

“There is more than enough money in the economy to pay for this. Indeed, the Green Party would go further and faster, investing at least double what Labour originally pledged, so we can turbo charge the transition to a green economy.”

Starmer ‘wants to have fight’ with Tories over Labour’s £28bn green spending pledge | Politics News

Sir Keir Starmer wants to have “a fight” with the Conservative Party on his target to spend £28bn a year on green projects by 2030.

He told Wilfred Frost on Sky News: “It’s absolutely clear to me that the Tories are trying to weaponise this issue, the 28 billion, etc.

“It’s a fight I want to have, if we can have a fight going into the election between an incoming Labour government that wants to invest in the future long-term strategy that will lower our bills and give us energy independence versus stagnation, more of the same under this government.

“If they want that fight on borrow to invest, I’m absolutely up for that.”

Politics latest: Sir Keir Starmer faces questions as election year kicks off

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The Labour leader added that he was “very happy to do live debates” – including on Sky News – but the specifics would be negotiated at a later date.

Sir Keir added that his first mission was to grow the economy, and he reiterated that any fiscal pledge would need to adhere to his party’s fiscal rules.

The party has previously watered down the £28bn pledge – saying it was a target rather than a commitment.

Sir Keir was asked if it was “irresponsible” to have a “trade off” between green policy and the economy.

He told the Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme on Sky News: “No, I don’t.

“Because the government is trying to pretend that the date on which an incoming Labour government signs a particular cheque, is what matters. What matters is clean power by 2030, keeping to those targets.

“I’m not prepared to move that date.”

The Labour leader last week launched his general election campaign, with a vote likely to take place this year.

Speaking near Bristol on Thursday, he rejected that he was “cautious” and pitching himself as simply a way to end the Conservative’s time in power.

Sir Keir added that the “change that we are offering, the difference that we want to make, between 14 years of decline and a decade of national renewal, they are fundamentally different things”.

Earlier this week, Rishi Sunak indicated he will call an election in the second part of this year – with Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates hearing that 14 November is the frontrunner in government circles.

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Rob Powell Political reporter

Rob Powell

Political correspondent


The first week of the year has seen both party leaders shift into gear for the long election campaign – something fully on show in Sir Keir Starmer’s first Sunday morning interview of 2024.

The pre-ballot trash talk has started with the Labour leader calling on the prime minister to “set a date” now with a new attack line levelled on his opposite number that Rishi Sunak is trying to clock up two years in office before going to the polls.

But despite claiming to be ready for the vote, much of Sir Keir’s policy offering still appears to be a work in progress.

On taxation, the Labour leader suggested he would look to prioritise taxes for people in work – but would go no further.

On the party’s 2021 pledge to spend £28bn on clean energy investment, a pivot is undoubtedly in the offing as Sir Keir looks to shift the emphasis away from the exact figure – which many doubt can be hit given the party’s fiscal rules – and to the longer term promise for clean electricity by 2030.

Plenty of people doubt a Labour government would meet that pledge either, but it’s the £28bn that the Conservatives have chosen to weaponise – hence the recalibration.

We saw Sir Keir address that Tory strategy head on though, saying that if Rishi Sunak wants that fight in the election campaign “bring it on”.

For a politician sometimes accused of lacking personality and emotional depth, we also got a rare glimpse into Starmer the husband and Starmer the father.

He spoke of his one big worry about his potential career trajectory saying there would undoubtedly be an impact on his young children and he “desperately” wanted to protect them.

It’s likely to be a messy and vicious election campaign.

This won’t be the last time that Sir Keir is asked about matters beyond politics and policy.

Sir Keir told Sky that the prime minister is putting “vanity before country” by delaying the calling of a vote, adding that he wants a vote “as soon as possible”.

The Labour leader pointed out this is the first election since 2015 which the public knows is coming in advance.

“And so if people want change – and I think they do – I can make that case.

“But in the end it’s voters who will, on whatever day it is, be able to go and put that cross on the ballot and determine the future of their country.

“I mean, the power of the vote is incredible, and it’s a reminder that this year voters have the power to vote for hope and change.”

In his interview with Wilfred Frost, Sir Keir was also asked which taxes he would cut to deliver his desire to lowering the tax burden.

He did not name any specifics, but rather stated that “taxes on working people” would be what he is aiming to reduce if he gets the keys to Number 10.

But the Labour leader said government needs to look at the reasons for a high tax burden – singling out a “low growth economy” and 14 years of “effectively” stagnation.

“We’ve got to have a discussion about how we grow the economy,” he said.

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Sir Keir Starmer opens up about family support.

Speaking about the more personal side of being a frontline politician, Sir Keir said his wife “is fantastic”.

He added: “She is my complete support and partner in this.

“She doesn’t do anything publicly; she wants to get on with her job, she works for the NHS, we’ve got two relatively young children, a boy who’s 15, a boy who’s 13, but it impacts them all of the time, every single day.

“And all of that I do, I talk through with Vic, all the big decisions, the ones which we sit and talk thorough at home, and that is a good thing except I’m not sure she signed up for this.”