Keir Starmer woos business with promise to use ‘white heat of technology’ to deliver growth

Labour leader risks alienating companies with promise to take advantage of ‘opportunities of Brexit’

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Wednesday 23 February 2022 22:35
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<p>Keir Starmer </p>

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer is to evoke the memory of Labour’s 1960s prime minister Harold Wilson with a promise to use the “white heat of technology” to deliver an economy that works for all.

In a speech in the four-time election-winner’s home town, Huddersfield, Sir Keir will quote his predecessor’s famous dictum in the latest step of his drive to reposition Labour as the party of business and growth.

In his strongest effort yet to woo the private sector, he will say that no political party can succeed without a strong plan to help businesses thrive.

“Britain cannot rise to the great challenges of the day without the innovation of business,” he will say. “A political party without a clear plan for making sure businesses are successful and growing, which doesn’t want them to do well and make a profit, has no hope of being a successful government.”

But he will also risk alienating businesses who are reeling from the additional costs and red tape resulting from leaving the EU by repeating his pledge to “take advantage of the opportunities of Brexit”.

Sir Keir will brand Boris Johnson’s Conservatives the party of high tax and low growth, pointing to April’s national insurance rise, which will bring the proportion of national income taken by the state to its highest level in 50 years.

Promising to bring an end to a “decade of faltering growth” under Conservative-led administrations, the Labour leader will declare that “the days of economic fatalism are over”.

In what Labour have billed as a major speech on his plans for “a new economy”, Sir Keir will set out priorities that are a far cry from the programme of nationalisation under his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour will position the government as a partner to the private sector, put money back in people’s pockets, revitalise former industrial areas, end insecure unemployment and drive up productivity and wages, he will promise.

“With Labour, Britain will once again grow,” he will say. “And from the proceeds of that growth we will build a new economy and a new Britain – one based on security, prosperity and respect for all.”

Echoing Wilson, he will say: “Our country and our economy are entirely different now, but we too are going through the white heat.

“We face our own revolutions in technology and industry, and it will fall to the next Labour government to shape that change so it works for all.”

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