Rachel Reeves: Why I will talk to Joe Biden’s team over jobs and economy

SHADOW Chancellor Rachel Reeves plans to draw inspiration from President Joe Biden’s economic stimulus package in the United States as she plays a leading role in helping to revive Labour’s electoral fortunes.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves during a constituency visit to Kirkstall Forge.

She also said the Opposition will be far more transparent over the funding of future policies – and that there will be no ad hoc spending commitments during future election campaigns.

The Leeds West MP made the undertakings to The Yorkshire Post in her first newspaper interview since being promoted by party leader Sir Keir Starmer to Shadow Chancellor following the party’s historic defeat to the Tories in the Hartlepool by-election.

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Rachel Reeves has been Labour MP for Leeds West since 2010.

She was speaking during a constituency visit to Kirkstall Forge – one of the North’s largest regeneration sites – and to discuss how devolution is key to the region’s recovery. Ms Reeves also maintained that Sir Keir’s job had been “near impossible” during the pandemic and that Labour can win the next election under him because politics is so volatile.

“Bring it on,” she declared.

But she also conceded to The Yorkshire Post that a lack of trust on the economy “had been one of Labour’s weaknesses” for “a very long time” and this was one of the basic qualifications for any leadership team which aspires to govern.

“Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, from 1994 to 1997, set about winning that trust of voters on the economy and on business, and they managed to achieve that,” she said.

Rachel Reeves MP during a previous visit to Kirkstall Forge.

“If you look at the last election, there were promises that we made that were not funded. I will not, as Shadow Chancellor, allow us to go into an election with any pledges that we don’t explain where the money is going to come from.”

However, she stressed that Labour could still be both fiscally responsible – and ambitious for Britain.

“That is why I’ve said I want to speak to and plan to speak to Biden’s economic team about the stimulus they are providing,” said Ms Reeves, who hopes that these talks can begin imminently when the UK hosts the G7 summit of world leaders.

“We want to address some of the inequalities which is what President Biden is doing. The stimulus package from President Biden is all about tackling some of those things that have held back working class and middle class American families.

“The biggest spending commitment from our Chancellor in the recent Budget? It was the super-deduction for businesses on business tax rates. That’s a very different approach on two sides of the Atlantic.

“You’re not going to reduce the debt and deficit unless you have an economy that is growing strongly. The UK economy, after the bounce back that we’re expected to see this year, now the OBR (Office of Budget Responsibility) is forecasting growth to be between 1.5 and two per cent. That is much lower than it has been historically.”

While she stressed Labour will not reverse Brexit, she said Labour will address elements of the EU deal that have led to a 18 per cent slump in exports to Europe.

“Made in Britain is a sign of quality and we should be supporting British goods and services around the world. The stuff we produce here is first rate and we have to get it out there and sell it,” she added.

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