My ‘Securonomics’ approach will learn from Biden’s administration and build a resilient country - Rachel Reeves

With interest rates going up yet again, and economic growth continuing to flatline, we need urgent action to get our economy and family finances on a better path.

As well as short term measures to help people through this cost of living crisis, we need a long term plan to get our economy on a more secure footing. For too long, any external shock, whether the pandemic or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has hit family finances in Yorkshire and across the UK hard.

That’s why, during a visit to New York and Washington DC last month, I set out how a Labour government would learn from what President Biden is doing to strengthen the USA’s resilience in a changing world, and bring good jobs to areas that have seen industries hollowed out.

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While in New York I visited the Harbor School – an amazing vocational school where teenagers are taught everything from ocean science to boat engineering to marine biology, building skills in the jobs of the future. I thought about the confidence, the hard work and ingenuity I’ve seen in children in towns from Scarborough to Hull and thought – “why not Yorkshire?” There’s no reason we shouldn’t be leading in innovations like this too.

'A Labour government would learn from what President Biden is doing to strengthen the USA’s resilience in a changing world'.'A Labour government would learn from what President Biden is doing to strengthen the USA’s resilience in a changing world'.
'A Labour government would learn from what President Biden is doing to strengthen the USA’s resilience in a changing world'.

But we need to secure our foundations first. As we face a more uncertain world, with changing dynamics between the West and China as well as huge technological changes, I am determined to make our economy more secure, so that family finances and our national economy are more resilient to shocks.

I call this new approach ‘Securonomics’.

What does that look like in practice? First, we need a new partnership between business and government. I know that businesses hold the key to good jobs and growth, and it’s only by working together that we can have a thriving economy and improve the world of work. In Yorkshire that means working more closely with the businesses and initiatives that hold huge potential. From our local high streets to our small business hubs, there is so much talent and hard work happening across our county.

Take for example the businesses I met at the Port of Hull working to build floating offshore wind - not just hosting it in the North Sea but building and remodelling the turbines and blades in Grimsby and Immingham. And the fantastic innovation happening at universities like Leeds and Sheffield, with the work of Northern Gritstone turning those ideas into businesses that can operate at scale. Just last month I spoke at the UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum on Leeds Docks, where hundreds of people came together to talk about the future of the sector and the potential it holds.

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Everyone I met has one thing in common: they want to move forward, to make the most of opportunities that would not only help their businesses thrive but support the British economy too. But they express frustration about too many barriers, and too much bureaucracy. We need an engaged and active government that wants to work with businesses to sort out those problems. And that’s what Labour will bring.

Second, we need to protect our national economic security. That doesn’t mean pulling up the drawbridge, but it does mean making sure our supply chains are secure, and building stronger ties with countries with shared interests and values.

My conversations with key architects of Biden’s programme left me in no doubt: the US is keen to forge ties with others as they build the industries of the future. A Labour government would embrace that opportunity to partner with them. We know how important it is to work together to build a shared resilience, and we know the potential Britain has to be a world leader in clean energy, AI and biotech.

Alongside that, by fixing the holes in the paper-thin Tory Brexit deal, our Yorkshire businesses will be able to import and export more easily with our nearest trading partner as we shape our own future outside of the EU.

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By taking this practical, partnership approach, we will not only get our economy back on an even keel, we’ll also be able to look to the future, to face up to challenges and to grasp opportunities that will make ours and our children’s lives better. From Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan to our modern Industrial Strategy, Britain can build the industries and create the jobs of the future in our industrial heartlands. Embracing this approach won’t just build a better future, but make our economy more resilient to outside shocks.

And it will secure the finances of working people, with good jobs, decent pay, strong public services, and an end to relentless increases in the cost of living. I know that by following the path of Securonomics, we can create a new future for Yorkshire and for Britain.

Rachel Reeves is Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Labour MP for Leeds West.