| 24 May 2024, Friday |

Labour conference: Reeves promises £28bn a year to make economy greener

Labour has pledged to spend an extra $38 billion a year on making the UK economy more “green” if it wins power.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the money would go on offshore wind farms, planting trees and developing batteries.

In her speech to Labour’s annual conference in Brighton, she also promised to phase out business rates to help the Covid-damaged High Street.

And she said giant tech firms would pay more tax in future.

An aide to Reeves told the BBC the $38 billion would come from government borrowing and the investment should “have a positive impact” on the wider economy.

In her speech, Reeves said: “I will be a responsible chancellor. I will be Britain’s first green chancellor.”

She added: “I will invest in good jobs in the green industries of the future, giga-factories to build batteries for electric vehicles, a thriving hydrogen industry, offshore wind with turbines made in Britain, planting trees and building flood defences, keeping homes warm and getting energy bills down, good new jobs in communities throughout Britain.”

For the Labour Party activists crying out for ambitious pledges following a series of lukewarm announcements there was $38 billion a year of investment to support the UK in reaching its climate targets.

She also went after some of the most potent symbols for party members: private schools and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon (“if you can afford to fly to the moon, you can afford to pay your taxes here on earth!”)

For the business community there was a promise to axe business rates and replace the £30bn of revenue with… something.

For those who thought it was all a bit too much she unveiled some fiscal rules that could lightly limit her room to spend and borrow, and a new value for money “hit squad” that would scrutinize government spending.

She has also upped her speech game significantly, introducing a group of keyworkers in the front row to rapturous applause and lowering her voice dramatically to deliver her soundbites.