Reeves refuses to clarify £28bn green spending pledge

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has repeatedly refused to set out whether she is standing by her commitment to spend £28 billion a year on green investment.

She promised “iron discipline” when it comes to the fiscal rules she has set out for a possible Labour government but declined to clarify whether she was ditching the level of investment.

Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, said “if we can get there” will depend on the state of the economy as he admitted it might not be achieved.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party has been insisting it was not dropping the pledge amid suggestions the scale of the spending was being axed.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves addressing business leaders during the launch of Labour Party’s plan for business
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves addressing business leaders during the launch of the Labour Party’s plan for business (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Labour has grown unsure about the £28 billion a year in green projects that it set out in 2021 amid Tory attacks on borrowing plans.

Ms Reeves first watered it down by saying it would be a target in the second half of a first parliament, if Labour wins the general election.

But, asked around 10 times in an interview with Sky News, the shadow chancellor refused to state whether she stands by that plan.

Ms Reeves said the cost of Government borrowing has increased, adding: “The fiscal rules will come first and all of our policies will be subject to the iron discipline.”

She promised “of course we will update people on our thinking on this”, wary of setting a figure before the spring Budget.

But Mr Reynolds cast further uncertainty over what was a commitment ahead of Labour’s business conference with executives on Thursday.

“That’s our level of ambition but how quickly we get there, and if we can get there, has to have respect to, and heed to, the overall position of our economy,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds
Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“We haven’t had the last budget before the election.

“I’m extremely confident in the overall pitch – there’s not one thing that needs to happen in the British economy to make everything fine, to see it grow faster.”

He insisted that Labour was not “struggling to make our minds up”, insisting that regardless of the sum “we’re very clear we want to see public investment rise”.

Last month, Labour sought to kill off a report the spending figure had been dropped by saying it was “committed” to ramping up the investment “subject to our fiscal rules”, which include making sure debt is falling.

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “With Labour’s consistent track record of saying one thing but doing another, this is another Labour promise that isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”

Ms Badenoch, who has been touted by Tory rebels seeking to topple the Prime Minister as a possible successor, added: “By sticking to our plan, Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives are strengthening the economy and the plan is working – with inflation more than halved and taxes cut for businesses and families.”