Sir Keir Starmer will tomorrow hone Labour’s pitch as an unapologetically pro-business party as he claims the UK needs an economic “reset” after Brexit and Covid.
Starmer, writing in City A.M., said his own reset of the Labour party has meant “showing business that as the party of work, we understand the need for stability, security, and a plan”, while also chiding the government for overseeing “poor” export performance and skills development post-Brexit.
The Labour leader and Boris Johnson will both give keynote speeches at the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) national conference tomorrow.
It comes as the CBI warns about the potential of low business investment and productivity continuing into the next decade without government intervention in the form of tax breaks and de-regulation.
The Office for Budget Responsibility also predicts anaemic UK economic growth as the economy settles post-Covid.
Starmer wrote that British businesses are currently facing a battering from “supply chain problems, price inflation, labour shortages, skills shortages and rising taxes” stemming from “poor decisions being made” by Johnson’s government.
The Labour leader said the UK’s “poor record on productivity is owed to the fact that we don’t invest enough in capital stock, infrastructure and technology”.
“We have a Prime Minister who thinks it was enough to ‘get Brexit done’ and cares little about how to make Brexit work,” he said.
“Let me be clear: Labour does not want a rematch. Brexit has happened and we are not going to rejoin. But, clearly, the government’s deal is full of holes.”
He added: “Secure, well paid, skilled work is not separate from good business. It is the driver of good business. When business profits, we all do.”
A UK government spokesperson said: “This government is right behind business, taking unprecedented action to support jobs and firms throughout the pandemic with £378bn for the economy over the last year, and helping companies get the skills they need through our Plan for Jobs.”
Johnson’s government is coming under pressure from Tory backbenchers for hiking taxes to their highest point in five decades, his mishandling of the Owen Paterson sleaze saga and for cancelling parts of HS2 in Yorkshire.
The Prime Minister’s appearance at the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers this week was widely reported to have been very testy as MPs vented their frustrations.
The vice chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, and former Treasury minister under David Cameron, Lord Jim O’Neill today called Johnson’s government “shambolic”.
“I’m a Manchester United fan … and I’m not sure whose handling priority matters are worse, the Glazer Family with United or Boris,” he told Sky News.