Once again Labour’s internal debate over its £28 billion green spending pledge is playing out publicly. On Friday there was some talk of clarity following a report that the headline figure would be ditched – with the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Darren Jones then going out on the media where he appeared to confirm it. Jones said Labour would decide how much to spend on environmental programmes once in government, adding that ‘the number will move around just as a matter of fact’. But then Keir Starmer popped up on Monday to declare in an interview with Times Radio that the £28 billion a year on green spending is ‘desperately needed’.
We’re going to need investment, that’s where the £28 billion comes in. That investment that is desperately needed for that mission… you can only understand the investment argument by understanding that we want to have clean power by 2030 … We need to borrow to invest to do that.
The comments have been taken by those pushing for the figure to stay as a recommitment, and a sign that Starmer will not be bounced into a position.
It means that for the first time, there appears to be a significant difference of opinion between Starmer and his shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves. Reeves has been careful not to recommit to the £28 billion figure while Starmer is happy to mention it. ‘There comes a point when you can’t just put it down to confusion on the media round’, says a party figure. Shadow ministers joke that at this point that they are having to decide the line for themselves when sent out to do the media.