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Labour refuse to commit to £28bn green pledge

Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

When is a pledge not a pledge? When the Labour party are making it, it seems. The shadow cabinet is currently grappling with how best to explain their plans for a £28-billion Green New Deal, as set out by shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves in 2021. A fortnight ago, a party spokesman dismissed reports that the headline figure has been ditched as ‘complete nonsense’. But in an interview on Monday, Reeves failed to commit to the figure, claiming ‘everything that we do will be subject to the fiscal rules that I’ve set out.’

On the Wednesday morning media round, her junior spokesman Tulip Siddiq invoked infanticide as she danced around the meaning of the word ‘commitment’: ‘If there’s a global financial crisis when there’s an election, and we win, obviously we need to review our commitments that that time.’ And now, ahead of their big City charm offensive later today, shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds has admitted he cannot pledge green investment would hit the ‘particular level’ of £28 billion under a Labour government.

He told BBC Breakfast that the amount Labour would invest would be ‘determined by how strong the economy is’ and insisted ‘the overall amount of spending is determined by our fiscal rules and the health of the economy.’ As interviewer Charlie Stayt noted with some exasperation:

If it’s a pledge before then it remains a pledge. But you’re just saying, well, when it suits you, you’ll just say, well, “It wasn’t really a pledge.”

When Reeves announced the policy backed in 2021, she suggested it would pay for itself over time. As Labour approaches power, suddenly such sunny optimism seems to have vanished….

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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