Shropshire Star

Reeves warns there will be ‘difficult decisions’ if Labour wins election

The shadow chancellor warned that the Tories had left the UK’s finances in an ‘absolute mess’.

Rachel Reeves making a speech

Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has said that “difficult decisions” will need to be made if her party forms the next government, as she accused the Tories of having left the UK’s finances in an “absolute mess”.

Ms Reeves added that it would “take time to turn around that damage” after 14 years of Conservative rule.

But, speaking as she campaigned in Scotland, the shadow chancellor stressed: “I don’t want to be one of those politicians that makes promises on a wing and a prayer.

“So I won’t make any promises I can’t keep, because I don’t want to let people down.”

She spoke out as the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank warned whoever is charge after July 4 faces a “stark choice” between making tax rises beyond their manifesto pledges, spending cuts or increased borrowing.

IFS director Paul Johnson said Labour and the Conservatives have maintained a “conspiracy of silence” on their spending plans and people will be voting in “knowledge vacuum” on polling day.

Ms Reeves, however, stressed the need to to grow the UK economy, arguing that this would allow Labour to raise additional funding needed for public services.

The shadow chancellor again insisted that “there will be no return to austerity under a Labour government”, as she stressed: “Our plans are premised on growing the economy, because it has been growth that has been missing these last 14 years.

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has accused the Tories of leaving the UK’s finances in a mess (Yui Mok/PA)

“If we had just grown at the average rate of similar OECD economies in the last 14 years, our economy would  have been £150 billion bigger.”

She said growth at this rate could provide £55 billion a year to spend on public services, adding: “That is how important growth is.”

Ms Reeves, speaking on a visit to the Whitelee wind farm outside Glasgow, which is the UK’s largest onshore windfarm, insisted Labour’s proposals were “all about growing the economy”, with plans to reform planning and skills included in its election manifesto.

“It is only through growth in the end that you are going to have the money for public services while also improving living standards,” she said.

Her comments came as she insisted she wanted to “be honest” with voters.

With Labour having come under fire for its failure to commit to scrapping the two-child limit on some benefits, Ms Reeves said: “There are lots of things we would like to do, but the public finances are in an absolute mess after 14 years of Conservative government.

“Debt as a share of our economy is almost 100%, so our government debt is almost the same size as our whole economy.

“Taxes are at a 70-year high, I don’t think we can go increasing taxes, that is why we have said national insurance, income tax, VAT, we will not be increasing those for the duration of the next Parliament.”

But she accepted that this means an incoming Labour government is “not going to be able to do everything we want to do as quickly as we would like to do it”.

Adding that there would be “difficult decisions”, Ms Reeves said: “Would I like a different inheritance from the Tories? Absolutely I would.

“But we have to accept the inheritance the Conservatives have left us and it is going to take time to turn around that damage.

“That’s being honest, and I want to be honest with people. I don’t want to make promises without being able to say where the money is going to come from, I won’t make promises unless I now I can keep them.”

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