Wednesday 17 February 2021 10:30 pm

Labour's top priority is 'financial responsibility', says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer will tomorrow say Labour’s priority will “always be financial responsibility” in a speech expected to reveal the party’s future economic direction under his leadership.

Starmer will also say there can be “no return to business as usual” post-Covid, while outlining policies that he says will provide “long-term security to the economy, support for entrepreneurs and offering people a proper stake in Britain’s future”.

Read more: Labour should become the party of AI and tech under Keir Starmer

The speech has been described as a kind of a reset for Starmer as he enters his second year of Labour leadership trailing the government in opinion polling.

The Labour leader has been criticised by some over the past month for lacking a clear economic agenda post-Covid, with tomorrow’s speech expected to provide a clearer outline.

The speech’s emphasis on “financial responsibility” will likely be seen as an attempt to distance himself from Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist economic policies.

Starmer is expected to say: “I know the value of people’s hard-earned money – I take that incredibly seriously – and I know that people rightly expect the government to look after it too.

Before the Open newsletter: Start your day with the City View podcast and key market data

“To invest wisely and not to spend money we can’t afford. Those are my guiding principles.”

Starmer will add: “I believe people are now looking for more from their government – like they were after the Second World War.

“They’re looking for government to help them through difficult times, to provide security and to build a better future for them and their families.

“A government that invests in British skills, science, universities and manufacturing that provides world-class education for our children and whose driving mission it is to tackle inequalities from birth.”

The speech comes just two weeks before Rishi Sunak is due to deliver his March Budget.

The chancellor is expected to make a decision on whether he will extend a range of emergency Covid support measures for businesses, including the furlough scheme, while also potentially earmarking future tax rises.

Sunak has said in the past that the UK needs to return to “sustainable finances” in the near future, after spending almost £300bn on Covid-19.

Read more: IFS urges Rishi Sunak not to raise taxes in March Budget

The left-leaning institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said earlier today that Sunak should instead follow Joe Biden and inject a £190bn stimulus package into the economy.

Carsten Jung, senior economist at IPPR, said: “The risk of doing too little far outweighs the risk of doing too much. Joe Biden has understood this. Rishi Sunak should follow his lead.”