Ed Miliband ‘to support Labour ditching flagship £28bn green pledge’ following speculation he could resign

8 February 2024, 14:56 | Updated: 8 February 2024, 15:08

Ed Miliband is expected to back Starmer's green pledge U-turn.
Ed Miliband is expected to back Starmer's green pledge U-turn. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Ed Miliband will back Labour’s plan to scrap its flagship £28 billion green pledge following initial speculation he was unhappy with the move.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Sir Keir is expected to announce that Labour is dropping its staple £28 billion environmental policy on Thursday.

Shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband is expected to rally behind the U-turn despite initial speculation he could resign over the move, The Telegraph reports.

Mr Milband was a key figure behind by the flagship policy, which had originally been criticised by the Tories for being unaffordable.

Reacting to the planned U-turn, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hit out at the Labour party, as he wrote on X: “After four years of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership it seems like Labour’s only economic plan is to copy the Conservatives.

“But if their policies flipflop like this in opposition, what sort of chaos would the British people have to endure if they got into power?”

While Tory MP Simon Clarke wrote “Chaos with Ed Miliband”, referencing a tweet made by former PM David Cameron in 2015 about the shadow climate secretary.

Nick Ferrari reacts to a report on climate change and racism

Writing about the green pledge last year, Mr Milband said on X: “Some people don’t want Britain to borrow to invest in the green economy. They want us to back down.

“But Keir, Rachel and I will never let that happen. Britain needs this £28bn a year plan and that is what we are committed to.”

Since reports emerged that Sir Keir is set to scrap the plans, some Labour MPs have called on the party leader to stick with the green pledge.

Labour mayor Andy Burnham urged Sir Keir to “stick to the pledge around green transition”, the New Statement reports.

While Mr Rotherham said the planned policy could be “transformational”.

The planned announcement comes as senior figures have refused to commit to the £28 billion figure in recent weeks, even though Sir Keir Starmer used it himself earlier this week.

The Labour leader will confirm that the pledge is being scaled back due to the changing economic landscape, reports suggest.

In 2023, Labour said the £28 billion-a-year target would instead be met in the second half of a first parliament, rather than immediately, should they get into No10.

Labour insisted for weeks that it remains a target, though said it would be subject to its "strict" fiscal rules, which include getting debt falling as a percentage of GDP.

Read More: Labour slam Tories for "stealing opportunities" on apprenticeships as enrolments down a quarter

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has repeatedly declined to recommit to the spending pledge, instead highlighting the need for "iron discipline" with the public finances.

But on Tuesday, Sir Keir said the money was "desperately needed" for the party's key mission to achieve clean power by 2030.

The Conservatives have also seized on the figure as a key attack line in the run-up to an election this year, claiming Labour would ultimately have to raise taxes to meet the "unfunded spending spree".

Read More: Tory minister refuses to apologise after Brianna Ghey's dad calls on PM to say sorry over 'degrading' trans jibe

Labour reconsidering green pledge is not the same as Boris Johnson's 'lying', says James O'Brien

Reacting to the news on LBC this evening, Tory MP and former chief whip Wendy Morton said: "[It's] another flip flop, another u-turn, this just shows Labour doesn't have a plan."

Meanwhile, former Green Party leader Baroness Natalie Bennett said: "If you want green, you clearly have to vote Green at the next election...to be really serious about this, this is obviously a great concern environmentally, but it's also a great concern in terms of the cost of living crisis, in terms of public health and the quality of people's lives."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Alamy

Labour has pointed to recent economic turmoil under the Tories, including the turbulence caused by Liz Truss' mini-budget in 2022, when accused of watering down its flagship environmental pledge.

It was first announced in September 2021 by Ms Reeves, who at the time committed to spending an extra £28 billion each year to help Britain tackle climate change if the party wins power.

The U-turn would come after the Tories claimed an official Treasury costing had suggested that part of the plan - to upgrade insulation for 19 million homes - would cost more than double the party's estimate of £6 billion.