No more money for public services as Labour set to follow Tory spending plans

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves refused to deny that the Labour Party would follow Tory spending plans if it wins the next General Election <i>(Image: James Manning)</i>
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves refused to deny that the Labour Party would follow Tory spending plans if it wins the next General Election (Image: James Manning)

A LABOUR government would have no more money for public services and continue Tory tax policies if they win the next General Election, according to senior shadow cabinet ministers.

The Sunday Times reports that senior figures within the Labour Party are so concerned about being seen as fiscally responsible they will refuse to increase spending in the event of an election victory.

Tax rises have reportedly been ruled out by both Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves while the cost of living crisis continues – even for the highest earners.

Other than a range of levies already announced by Starmer – including adding VAT to private school fees – no further taxes are set to be introduced.

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It mimics pledges made by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown ahead of New Labour’s victory in 1997. The duo promised to stick with the Tories’ public spending plans for the first two years of a Labour government.

During an appearance on the Sky News programme Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Reeves was confronted with the Office for Budget Responsibility’s latest forecast which saw public spending being squeezed under current plans.

Reeves said: “There is no contradiction between being fiscally responsible and wanting to support public services.

“In fact, you can’t support public services unless you put fiscal economic responsibility at the heart of everything you do. The Tories played fast and loose.”

When asked if she would emulate Gordon Brown and stick with the Conservative Party’s spending plans for two years after a Labour victory in the next General Election, Reeves refused to rule it out.

She said it was “too far ahead of an election to set out those plans".

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Following Reeves's appearance on the programme, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn was interviewed and denounced the Labour Party's spending plans.

"Today you have reports that the Labour Party are simply going to follow through with Conservative spending plans," he said.

"When it comes to green energy proposals they've walked away from the £28 billion of investment."

When pressed by Ridge that Reeves hadn't necessarily said she would meet Tory spending plans, Flynn replied: "I think it's quite clear that the Labour Party when it comes to some of these big issues have been changing their mind on an almost daily basis."

The SNP's policy convener Toni Giugliano told The National that Labour's unwillingness to change course from Tory policies showed that Scotland was "never the audience for UK Labour".

"Keir Starmer is a leading Tory party tribute act," he said.

"After a decade of austerity, a disastrous Brexit which gave us the highest food prices on record, mortgages through the roof and people in full-time work resorting to food banks, Labour say they don't plan to change course. It's frankly extraordinary.

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"We're in the middle of a cost of living crisis - instead of offering hope and committing to use their tax powers to help families get by and boost public services they'd rather chase Tory votes.

"This is another reminder that Scotland is enver the audience for UK Labour - it's always about chasing votes elsewhere.

"So why would we reward a party that doesn't speak to us, doesn't understand us and rejects our democratic choices time and time again?

"Scottish Labour keep telling us they offer change - but it turns out they're a Tory continuity party.

"At the next election the only alternative to this Tory government is independence."