Labour ‘ready to rebuild Britain’ after Tory 'chaos', Rachel Reeves declares

Monday 9 October 2023

Labour is 'ready to rebuild Britain' and restore economic security after the 'chaos' of Tory rule, the Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has declared.

In her speech, Ms Reeves told an audience at the Labour conference in Liverpool that the party would pull the economy out of the “wreckage of Tory misrule” with a “vision to rebuild Britain”.

Ms Reeves said: “The choice at the next election is this: five more years of the Tory chaos and uncertainty which has left working people worse off or a changed Labour Party offering stability, investment and economic security so that working people are better off.

“It falls to us to show that Labour are ready to serve, ready to lead and ready to rebuild Britain.”

Ms Reeves delivered her pitch to the nation at what is likely to be the last major Labour conference before a general election.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The Shadow Chancellor confirmed plans for reform of the “antiquated” planning system which would look to make it quicker and easier to build the infrastructure needed for modern industries and clean energy networks.

Ms Reeves described how her first budget would crack down on the tax perks enjoyed by private schools, making them pay VAT and business rates.

She also set out a series of measures to tackle the waste of taxpayers’ money.

These include a crackdown on the use of private planes by ministers, which she announced with a jibe at Mr Sunak, suggesting his love of flying was because he was scared of meeting voters.

The Shadow Chancellor would also look to Whitehall’s reliance on consultants.

Ms Reeves added that Labour would act to prevent a repeat of the HS2 fiasco by creating a new cross-government unit to keep major infrastructure projects under control.

“If I were in the Treasury, I would have been on the phone to the chief executive of HS2 non-stop,” she said.

“Demanding answers, and solutions, on behalf of taxpayers, businesses and commuters.”

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves making keynote speech at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt mocked Ms Reeves for not addressing inflation in her speech.

Mr Hunt said: “It is extraordinary that inflation wasn’t mentioned once by Rachel Reeves when it is the biggest challenge facing the British economy.

“Reeves made it clear Labour will increase borrowing by £28 billion every year which is a fairy tale for the British economy with no happy ending – just higher inflation, higher mortgages, higher debt and lower growth.

Responding to the speech, Confederation of British Industry chief Rain Newton-Smith remarked: “Businesses will be encouraged to hear the shadow chancellor speak so ambitiously about driving up business investment and committing to tackle some of the key blockers.

“Unlocking business investment and improving UK productivity is the best route we can take to raising living standards and secure sustainable growth.”