Get our daily coronavirus email newsletter with all the news you need to know direct to your inbox
Keir Starmer has set out plans for the “next chapter” of the UK’s recovery from the pandemic as he accused the Tories of plotting a “roadmap to yesterday”.
In a speech in London, the Labour leader said he would introduce a British Recovery Bond to give the public a stake in the country’s recovery from the crisis.
Mr Starmer said Labour would preserve the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift, fund town halls to avoid council tax hikes and scrap the pay freeze for public sector workers.
Business rate relief would be extended, as would the VAT cut for hospitality and leisure. And Labour would extend and update the furlough scheme.
Mr Starmer set Labour on a “moral crusade” to rebuild after a “decade failed Conservative ideology”.
Invoking the language of former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, he said: “Our moral crusade now is to address the inequalities and injustices that this crisis has so brutally exposed – and to build a better, more secure future.”
He promised Labour would “begin a new chapter in the history of our country” in the wake of the pandemic.
And in a message to Rishi Sunak ahead of next month’s Budget, he warned this is “no time for a second wave of austerity – and this is no time for tax rises on businesses on families either.
He said that despite Boris Johnson’s promises to “level up” Britain, the Conservatives don’t believe it’s the role of Government to tackle inequality or insecurity.
“You could have fooled me. If you can’t decide whether to plunge hundreds of thousands of children into poverty by cutting universal credit, you have no chance of mending our broken system.”
He went on: “If you vote against children getting free school meals, you’re not going to find the solution to millions of children growing up in poverty.
“If you can’t support three million self-employed people, but you can spray billions on contracts that don’t deliver for our NHS, you’re not going to be able to build the economy of the future.
“And if you freeze pay for millions of key workers you’re hardly going to build the high wage, high standards Britain that we so desperately need.
“That’s why, despite the scale of the moment, all we can expect from this government is more of the same:
Mr Starmer said he feared the Tories were “incapable of seizing this moment” and the upcoming Budget would only be short-term plans.
“Successive Conservative prime ministers have used the rhetoric of change of ‘northern powerhouses’, ‘burning injustices’, ‘levelling up’,” he said.
“But all it ever adds up to is a few soundbites and the odd photo opportunity.
“The truth is, whoever their Prime Minister is, the Conservatives simply don’t believe that it’s the role of government to tackle inequality or insecurity.”
A new plan for a “British recovery bond” would help provide money for investment in communities, he said
“It could help build the infrastructure of the future – investing in science, skills, technology and British manufacturing.
“It would also provide security for savers and give millions of people a proper stake in Britain’s future.”
He insisted the policy would not make the wealthiest richer, telling reporters it addressed the “short-termism” of the UK’s economy in the past.
Pressed on the issue, he said: “No, on the contrary, one of the problems of the past has been the short-termism of our economy, coupled with austerity.
“Many people have, I think, saved for the first time during this pandemic and, as the Bank of England says, they are unlikely to spend it in a hurry and this gives them the security of a bond going forward, and also helps the country secure that economy.”
News – Keir Starmer lays out ‘next chapter’ for UK with plan to fund pandemic recovery