Labour frontbencher downplays £28bn green pledge

Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, appeared to contradict himself on the party’s  green policy
Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, appeared to contradict himself on the party’s green policy - Tayfun Salci/Avalon
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A Labour frontbencher has appeared to contradict himself on the party’s £28 billion green pledge in two statements an hour apart, in a sign of the party’s confusion over the policy.

Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, said that Labour remained committed to investing the £28 billion in green projects as its “level of ambition” on Sky News on Sunday morning.

But in a separate interview about an hour later, Mr Reynolds said that he did not want to talk about “a sum of money as being a holy grail in terms of investments”.

Sir Keir Starmer had vowed to borrow £28 billion annually to fund green projects from year one if the party were to win power.

However, earlier this month he downplayed the pledge, saying that the promise was to bring about “clean power” by 2030, not “writing a cheque”.

The figure was then absent in the party’s so-called “campaign bible” that emerged last week, and The Sunday Times reported that it would not appear in Labour’s general election manifesto.

When asked about where the party stood on the £28 billion, Mr Reynolds told Sky News: “How much you can spend is determined by the health of the economy, which is clearly in a challenging position, and our own fiscal rules, which want to see debt fall by the end of a parliament.

He added: “So, we’re still committed to that level of ambition but we’re clear it is the fiscal rules that determine whether you can do that, and that is not because we’re limiting our ambition in that space. It’s a recognition if you don’t have that discipline, you end up with the kind of disaster we saw with Liz Truss, where you’re spending more money, but it’s only that interest, rather than the investments, that you want to make.”

‘Reality of opposition’

In an interview with Times Radio that aired about an hour later, Mr Reynolds appeared to backtrack on his previous comments, and said: “We want to see UK government debt falling at the end of a parliament. I don’t want to be talking about a sum of money as being the holy grail in terms of investments.

“It’s about, over time, getting to that level of ambition whilst making clear that how much you can spend, how much you can invest, is governed by your fiscal rules.

“It is opposition within the envelope of what the Government are doing, because that’s your starting point. That is just the reality of opposition.”

Laura Trott, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said that ‘Labour don’t have a plan to pay for their spending spree’
Laura Trott, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said that ‘Labour don’t have a plan to pay for their spending spree’ - Eddie Mulholland

The Conservatives again criticised Labour over their green policy, accusing the party of not having “a plan to pay for it”.

‘Thousands of pounds in higher taxes’

Laura Trott, chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “Jonathan Reynolds recommitted to Labour’s ‘2030’ promise that they say costs £28 billion a year. But he could not say how Labour would pay for this spending spree because Labour simply don’t have a plan to pay for it.

“This would mean thousands of pounds in higher taxes for working people – tearing up the progress we’ve made on the economy and taking us back to square one.”

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