After weeks of internal wobbling over the £28bilion policy that has been at the centre of Tory attacks Labour is expected to officially drop the figure in an announcement on Thursday
Keir Starmer is expected to abandon his flagship pledge to invest £28 billion a year on green energy projects in a major U-turn.
First unveiled by Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves at the party’s annual conference in 2021, it was hailed by environmental campaigners. But it was watered down last year as the party said the £28billion target would likely be met in the second half of a first Labour term in power – rather than immediately.
After weeks of internal wobbling over the policy that has been at the centre of Tory attacks Labour is expected to officially drop the multi-billion pound figure today. Last week, Ms Reeves repeatedly declined to recommit to the spending pledge, instead highlighting the need for “iron discipline” with the public finances.
While the £28billion figure is expected to be ditched, the BBC said Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan, which includes a publicly owned power company GB Energy, will remain. A Labour spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports but added: “There will be an announcement today”.
Mr Starmer has previously highlighted the economic turmoil under the Tories, including the turbulence caused by Liz Truss ‘ 49 days in No10, when accused of watering down the pledge. The expected U-turn came as the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and the Liverpool City Regions Steve Rotheram urged the party not to drop the pledge.
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Mr Burnham told the New Statesman that Labour should “stick to the pledge” as it was the “best possibility that we have… of a fund to reindustrialise the north of England”. Former Shadow Cabinet Minister Barry Gardiner also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme abandoning the plans was “economically illiterate” and ” environmentally irresponsible”.
Unite – one of the UK’s largest unions and a big Labour donor – said the “retreat” would “confirm workers’ scepticism of the endless promises of jam tomorrow and it will be ‘alright on the night’ rhetoric on the green transition”. The union’s General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “If different choices aren’t made Britain will again lag behind other nations. The German government investment bank already has in its funds equivalent to 15% of German GDP.
“The Labour movement has to stand up to the Conservatives’ false accusations of fiscal irresponsibility. There is a catastrophic crisis of investment in Britain’s economic infrastructure. Britain needs more not less investment.”
Friends of the Earth head of policy Mike Childs said: “Green investment doesn’t just deliver for the planet; it also benefits our health and economy. Cutting it would be short-sighted and cost the country dearly. The UK is already lagging behind in the race to manufacture green steel, build electric vehicles, and develop giga-battery factories. Thousands of jobs are at risk if we don’t match the investment the US and the rest of Europe are making in these industries.
“A comprehensive home insulation programme is desperately needed to help the millions of people left shivering in heat-leaking homes. This would slash bills, cut energy waste and benefit the economy. For years UK climate action has been undermined by dither, delay and lukewarm support from government. We urgently need real political leadership to confront the climate crisis and seize the huge opportunities that building a greener future would bring.”