Starmer urges Hunt to get UK off ‘path of managed decline’ ahead of Budget

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Sir Keir Starmer has challenged the Chancellor to get the UK “off this path of managed decline” ahead of the spring Budget.

The Labour leader urged Jeremy Hunt to match his party’s ambition to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7 group of advanced economies.

Criticising the stalling economy under the Tory Government, Labour pointed to data showing there are 3,000 fewer high-growth businesses in the UK than there were five years ago.

There were 10,695 companies classed as high growth in 2021, compared with 13,925 in 2018, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Sir Keir and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will visit a fuel cell manufacturing plant – one of the industries set to benefit from the plans – in Surrey on Monday.

Ahead of the visit, the Labour leader said: “These are challenging economic times. But I know the spirit of enterprise, of creativity, of endeavour are as present in Britain today as they ever have been.

“This week the Government has a real opportunity to show they have the ambition and competence to govern. Either they show some proper leadership and get our country off this path of managed decline or stand aside for an incoming Labour government.

“Labour’s mission to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7 won’t just have us leading the pack again, but make sure all parts of the country are better off, not just a few.

“By spreading power, wealth and opportunity everywhere, my Labour Party will unlock Britain’s vast economic potential and deliver the growth this country so desperately needs.”

Labour has previously said an £8 billion national wealth fund would result in a zero-carbon economy “made in Britain” and has committed to invest £28 billion a year in the so-called green economy.

Ms Reeves said the plans are taking inspiration from US President Joe Biden, who is “turning the rust belt into an electric vehicle belt, creating good manufacturing jobs in former industrialised heartlands and getting businesses to invest in the US”.

She told the Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme : “I want to see some of that action here in the UK.

“At the moment, it feels like we’re in the changing room when other countries are in the global race, and we’re going to miss out, miss out in that investment, in carbon capture and storage, floating offshore wind, green steel, green hydrogen.”

The shadow chancellor warned that if the UK does not invest in those industries then in 10 years it could be importing electric vehicles, steel, hydrogen and electricity.

The Conservatives said Ms Reeves’ comments on spending amounted to an admission Labour would “saddle our children and grandchildren with insurmountable debt”.

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