LIVERPOOL: Britain’s main opposition Labour Party said at its annual conference on Monday that power was “finally within our grasp” and that it was ready to “rebuild Britain” following 13 years of Conservative rule.
Rachel Reeves — who is set to become the UK’s first female finance minister if her party wins the next general election — told delegates that her party’s “economic mission is to restore growth to Britain”.
Her party, led by Keir Starmer, has been riding high in the polls for more than a year, and is widely expected to take power at the next election, which has to be called by January 2025 at the latest.
“It is only through power that we can put our principles into action, under Keir’s leadership that is finally within our grasp,” Reeves told the conference, vowing they would deliver “stability, investment and economic security”.
The UK is in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine, Brexit and pandemic lockdowns.
The ruling Conservatives have had three leaders since the last election in 2019, with Rishi Sunak taking over from Liz Truss after her radical tax-slashing agenda spooked the financial markets.
Reeves said the chaos that followed proved that “you can never trust the Tories with our economy ever again” and that she would introduce a law requiring any future tax and spending changes to be subject to an independent forecast.
The party would make tech giants “pay their fair share” of tax, and would also introduce a windfall tax on profits in the energy sector, she added.
Reeves, a former Bank of England economist, said she would also appoint investigators to track down the estimated £7.2 billion ($8.8 billion) of taxpayers’ money fraudulently obtained during the Covid pandemic.
The ruling Tories held their conference last week, but it was overshadowed by the decision to pull the plug on a key part of the planned high speed trail link “HS2”, due to spiralling costs.
Reeves promised an investigation into how the budget got out of hand, and also said her party would strive to make building easier, for infrastructure projects and homes. Her reforms would “accelerate the building of critical infrastructure” for energy, transport, housing, life sciences and 5G by tackling litigation “which devours time and money before we even see shovels in the ground”, said Reeves.
Starmer will address the conference, being held in Liverpool, north west England, on Tuesday.