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Labour denies axing £28bn green investment pledge

Labour has denied it is dropping its pledge to invest £28 billion a year in green projects.

It came after a report that the expenditure commitment was being axed.

The party also failed to mention the commitment in a campaigning brief published earlier this week.

But on Friday evening, a Labour spokesperson said: “We are committed to Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan to drive growth and create jobs, including our plan to ramp up to £28 billion of annual investment in the second half of the parliament, subject to our fiscal rules.”

The Sun had earlier reported that the opposition party was dumping the £28 billion expenditure pledge, while retaining the policy ambition.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying the figure had “become an albatross around our neck”.

The Guardian said senior party officials will hold crunch talks on the plan’s fate and could still abandon it if they conclude it will damage the party in an election campaign.

The reports prompted criticism, with SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn saying: “Winning the global race to net zero is essential to securing economic growth, energy security, skilled jobs and inward investment.

“Turning away from delivery, out of fear of being attacked by the worst Tory Government in history, is desperate and dispiriting.”

Labour’s key pitch has come under scrutiny in recent months, with the Tories branding it unaffordable in attacks that have become more frequent since the UK entered an election year.

Sir Keir Starmer has previously hinted he could scale down the investment given the financial picture he would inherit if he becomes prime minister.

But supporters have been concerned about watering it down.

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves scaled back the pledge to spend £28 billion annually from the first year of a Labour government to hit it by the second half of the parliament (James Manning/PA)

Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor for Greater Manchester, last week urged Sir Keir to “stick to your guns” on the policy to invest in the future.

“This is not spending, this is investment in the future, investment in new industry, investment in better homes for our residents, better transport,” he said.

The Labour leader on Sunday told the BBC that he stood by the policy, but added numerous caveats, saying it was “subject to what the Government has already assigned” for environmental projects and needs to be “within our fiscal rules”.

Labour promised in 2021 to invest £28 billion a year until 2030 in green projects if it came to power.

But last year shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said it would instead be a target to work towards in the second half of a first parliament, if Labour wins an election.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott said: “Labour’s 2030 policy remains in place and that means £28 billion of unfunded spending every year.

“It’s clear now that Sir Keir Starmer cannot say how he would fund his £28 billion-a-year spending spree, because he doesn’t have a plan to pay for it – and that can only mean thousands of pounds more in tax for families.

“Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives will stick to the plan which is working, meaning a stronger economy, reduced borrowing and lower taxes.”