Sir Keir Starmer has called Liz Truss the “destroyer of growth” in response to her claim that Labour is part of an “anti-growth coalition”.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham yesterday (5 October), the Prime Minister said opposition parties - in addition to “militant unions” and environmental campaigners, such as the protesters from Greenpeace who interrupted her speech - were hindering the country’s economic growth.
She also claimed they prefer “protesting to doing” and “talking on Twitter to taking tough decisions”.
But the Labour Party leader has hit back at Truss’ remarks in a series of local radio interviews this morning (6 October), saying it is the Prime Minister who is the “destroyer of growth.”
What did Keir Starmer say?
When asked about the claim that Labour are the “enemies of growth” by BBC Radio Sheffield, Starmer replied: “For heaven’s sake.
“The enemies of growth? She’s just passed a kamikaze mini budget which has lost control of the economy, [and] is putting hundreds of pounds on people’s mortgage bills… that is the absolute opposite of a plan for growth.
“She’s not just anti-growth, she’s the destroyer of growth.”
His comments come in the wake of a period of economic upheaval for the UK. After Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced his mini budget, the pound hit a record low against the dollar, the Bank of England intervened to essentially bail out the Government, and Truss and Kwarteng were forced to U-turn on their plans to axe the 45p tax rate for the country’s highest earners.
Speaking further on the government’s “kamikaze mini budget” to BBC Radio Lincolnshire, Starmer said “it’s vital we reverse it.”
He claimed that by the Labour Party’s calculations, across Lincolnshire, “the government’s mismanagement of its budget is going to lead to increases of £297 per month additional. That is eye-watering.”
“I’d be more than frustrated, I’d be angry,” the St Pancras and Holborn MP continued. “It cannot be right or fair.”
He added that the “plan for prosperity” that Labour set out at its annual conference in Liverpool last week, which included creating a Great British Energy company, will “reward” the country and help the people who are “really growing the economy”, such as bus drivers, train drivers, and those who work in agriculture, hospitality, hospitals and schools.
The Labour Party leader also told BBC Radio Surrey he “fundamentally disagrees” with Truss’ approach to economic growth, claiming her plans serve only to “make rich people richer”.
Meanwhile, Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy also criticised the Prime Minister’s recent comments, describing them as “laughable” to BBC Radio 4 and arguing Labour’s plans were the way to “get growth back into the economy.”
“When we do borrow to pay for day-to-day spending, we’ll only do so when the Office for Budget Responsibility says there’s a crisis,“ she added, in a clear criticism of the Government’s decision to not request an official analysis for its mini budget.
Nandy concluded: “We won’t saddle working people with more debt.”
What is the government saying?
Asked on LBC radio when the UK will know when the government’s growth plan is working, Tory party chairman Jake Berry said: “This is going to be a difficult winter. We have a war on the soil of Europe in the Ukraine, with a vile and illegal war. We have challenges around global supply chains still coming into our economy from Covid. We have global inflation.
“So this is going to be a difficult winter, but I hope and believe that people will start to see next year that our growth plan is turning the country around.”
A government spokesman said there are a “range of factors” affecting mortgage interest rates.
They also said the government is doing “what it can” to support people with the rising costs of energy through the price guarantee and other measures, and that the growth plan and changes to taxes are putting money “back in the pockets” of working people.