Policy doubts

Rayner denies confusion over Labour’s green pledge

Angela Rayner: number is ‘arbitrary’

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, raised further questions about her party’s pledge to invest £28 billion in green energy when she said it could not be bound by an “arbitrary number”.

Opposition parties have accused Labour of backing away from the plan and instead saying the investment, funded by borrowing, is contingent on the party’s “fiscal rules”.

Labour promised in 2021 to invest £28bn a year until 2030 in green projects if it came to power. More recently, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has described the figure as a “target to work towards”, while party leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was possible a Labour government would “borrow less”.

The Guardian reported that Starmer and Reeves would commit to only about £10 billion, approximately a third of the original investment, confined to schemes that had already been announced.

Speaking during a visit to the Glenkinchie distillery in East Lothian alongside the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, Ms Rayner denied there was confusion around the policy.

She said: “It’s not about just throwing a figure out there willy-nilly, and saying we’ll just put that in. It’s got to be part of applying to our fiscal rules.

“This is about identifying where that money will be spent, and when, how quickly we can get that off the ground in a sustainable way to secure the public money and secure that three times the amount of private investment.

“They’re the rules that we’re applying to that money.

“Therefore it’s arbitrary to say, well every year it will be £28bn by immediately the first day. We don’t even know what the public finances are going to be like.”

Pressed further on whether the party was abandoning the £28bn target, she replied: “No, we’re saying that we want to ramp up to £28bn. But we’re not just going to throw money out there.

“The fiscal rules that Rachel [Reeves, the shadow chancellor] has applied to that money is that it has to be about investment in jobs of the future as part of our industrial strategy.”

SNP Economy spokesperson, Drew Hendry said: “This latest U-turn by Sir Keir Starmer, which mirrors the economic negligence of the Tories, is a deeply damaging move that threatens jobs, investment and economic growth in Scotland – at a time when it’s needed more than ever.

“The SNP is clear that major investment is required to compete in the global green energy gold rush – and to enable Scotland to fulfil our potential as a renewable energy powerhouse.

“When the EU and US are ploughing ahead with investment, it makes no sense for broken Brexit Britain to pull the rug from under Scotland’s energy industry. 

“£28billion is the bare minimum – we should be investing more, not less, to drive growth and reap the rewards.”

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