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Labour is not scaling back £28bn green investment plan – shadow minister

Labour is “not scaling back” its pledge to invest £28 billion annually into green projects in a bid to kickstart economic growth, a shadow minister has said.

Senior Labour figures have been dogged by questions about its so-called green prosperity plan in recent months following frequent suggestions in the press that it could be scrapped or watered down.

The policy has attracted Conservative attacks, with the governing party arguing it is unaffordable and will lead to tax rises.

But Sir Chris Bryant, a shadow digital minister, said “we intend to deliver” on the commitment if the party wins the next general election, which is expected in the autumn.

He refused to set out a timeframe for when a future Labour government would start meeting the investment sum, however.

The Opposition frontbencher told Times Radio: “On the £28 billion, we are not scaling back. We intend to deliver that.

“I cannot tell you on what day of what week we will deliver that.

“Just as, if you had (Chancellor) Jeremy Hunt in the studio now, he would not be able to tell you what the tax rates are going to be at the end of this year, let alone in 2028 or 2029.

“So we are being very straight with people. We are saying, ‘This is our ambition, this is what we want to do, this is what we intend to do, and we intend to do it as fast as we can’.”

Under its plan announced in 2021, Labour promised to invest £28 billion a year until 2030 in green projects if it came to power.

It was cited that the proposal, which could involve borrowing some of the money, would help drive economic growth and create the jobs of the future, while aiding Britain in its switch to more sustainable forms of energy.

Rachel Reeves
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the economic picture is ‘very different’ to when Labour announced its green investment plan in 2021 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves last week highlighted, during a listener call-in show on LBC during which she refused to repeat the £28 billion figure, that the economic picture is “very different” to when Labour first set out its intention.

She has already watered down the pledge, saying it will not start to be met until the second half of the next parliament.

Sir Chris, in another interview with Sky News, repeated Ms Reeves’ argument that Labour had to remain cautious as it did not know what state the economy would be in if Sir Keir Starmer becomes prime minister after the next election.

He said: “The single most important thing as we have known over the last few years is that you cannot just have a government spraying money left, right and centre, cutting taxes and changing tax rates left, right and centre, because it leads to instability in the British economy.

“I am saying it (the green investment) will happen … and we will make it happen as soon as we possibly can.

“But the bit that we cannot be certain of is what the state of the British finances will be by the time Jeremy Hunt and Rishi Sunak are finished with it.”

Richard Holden, Conservative Party chairman, said a Labour government would be “bad for the British people and would hammer them financially”.

He said: “Labour’s only idea is for a dangerous £28 billion spending spree but they cannot say how they would pay for it because they don’t have a plan.

“That will mean like always they will increase taxes for hardworking people.”