Sir Keir Starmer has said his party won’t be able to do some “good Labour things” as quickly as he would like if it wins government as he will need to promote “sound money in our public finances”.
Starmer told the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) annual conference that Labour under his leadership had become “not just a pro-business party but a party that is proud of being pro-business” and that “there is no going back”.
The speech comes with Labour consistently leading the Tories in every Westminster poll by 20+ points.
Starmer has benefited from the cost of living crisis and the government’s dysfunction over the past year, while also putting together a pro-business centre left economic platform.
He said today that the UK’s historic levels of government debt had to be reduced and that a Labour government would be fiscally responsible.
It comes as the OECD today said UK GDP would be the lowest of any G7 country next year.
“We’re determined to reduce debt as a share of our economy – sound money in our public finances must come first,” Starmer said.
“And we accept what this means – accept that we won’t be able to do things – good Labour things – as quickly as we might like. The lesson of the last few months is stark – lose control of the economy and its businesses and working people who pick up the bill.
“And I won’t let that happen again.”
Labour is yet to outline what decisions on tax and spending would be made to balance the books, but they have promised to reform Business Rates and to end tax exemptions for British non-doms.
Starmer also put the party’s position forward on immigration amid recent speculation over the future of the UK’s Brexit deal and national labour shortages.
He said that he would not put an “arbitrary target” on immigration if he wins the next election, but that the country must wean itself “off its immigration dependency to start investing more in training workers who are already here”.
“Migration is part of our national story – always has been, always will be and the Labour Party will never diminish the contribution it makes to our economy, to public services, to your businesses and our communities,” he said.
“But let me tell you – the days when low pay and cheap labour are part of the British way on growth must end.”