Labour will bring back growth, Reeves to tell businesses

A Labour government will be both pro-business and pro-worker, Rachel Reeves is set to promise in her first major election speech on Tuesday.

The shadow chancellor is expected to tell business leaders that, having brought business back to Labour, the party can now “bring growth back to Britain”.

She will say: “By bringing business back to Britain we can deliver a better future for working people.”

Under Sir Keir Starmer, Labour has tried to woo businesses as a way of demonstrating it can be trusted with the economy.

General Election campaign 2024
Sir Keir Starmer has promised to stand up for working people (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Those efforts have brought success, with business attendance at recent party conferences higher than under Jeremy Corbyn and wealthy businessmen donating more to Labour’s war chest.

But in her speech on Tuesday, former Bank of England analyst Ms Reeves is expected to stress the need for a partnership with business, government and workers.

She will say Labour offers “a government that is pro-worker and pro-business, in the knowledge that each depends upon the success of the other”.

Her remarks come after Labour faced a backlash over an apparent rebranding of its “New Deal for Workers”, with Britain’s largest trade union Unite warning that the party must “stick to its guns” on workers’ rights.

Labour insisted it had not watered down its commitments, adding the proposals had followed agreement with the unions.

The Conservatives have argued that Labour’s proposals would cost jobs and place unnecessary burdens on businesses, but the opposition have claimed good businesses will welcome the plans.

Ms Reeves is also expected to stress Labour’s commitment to economic stability, a key message of the campaign, and urge voters to “pass judgment on 14 years of economic chaos and decline under the Conservatives”.

Her speech is the second major intervention from Labour of the week, following Sir Keir Starmer’s address on Monday, in which he promised to stand up for working people.

Treasury Chief Secretary Laura Trott said Labour would “tie businesses in red tape”.

“The bosses of Asda, Marks and Spencer, Currys and the Confederation of British Industry have all warned that Labour’s French-style union laws risk damaging the economy, costing jobs,” she said.

“Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives have a clear plan that businesses can rely on.

“We took the bold action to deliver the biggest business tax cut in modern history. Labour would tie businesses in red tape and raise taxes by £2,094 on hardworking families.”

SNP Westminster economy spokesman Drew Hendry said: “The latest speech by Rachel Reeves cynically ignore the most fundamental reason for the economic decline of the United Kingdom – Britain is broken and Brexit broke it.”