Sir Keir Starmer accuses Tories of offering 'roadmap to yesterday' in economy speech

18 February 2021, 11:33 | Updated: 18 February 2021, 11:42

Sir Keir Starmer set out Labour's vision today
Sir Keir Starmer set out Labour's vision today. Picture: Labour Party

By Asher McShane

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused the Government of offering a "roadmap to yesterday" in a speech setting out the party's long-term economic vision.

In a virtual keynote speech today, Sir Keir warned that the Chancellor must avoid delivering a Budget on March 3 that would contain little more than short term fixes.

He proposed the creation of a new "British recovery bond" which would see the public invest the savings accrued in lockdown to fund start-ups.

He said the bond would give people "a stake in the future of their country."

Taking aim at Boris Johnson's administration, Sir Keir warned: "All we can expect from this Government is more of the same, a roadmap to yesterday".

READ MORE: PM to receive new vaccine data this week as he considers easing lockdown

READ MORE: Sadiq Khan urges PM to 'listen to science' and not backbench MPs in lifting lockdown

"If you can’t support three million self-employed people, but you can spray billions on contracts that don’t deliver for our NHS, you’re not going to be able to build the economy of the future.

"And if you freeze pay for millions of key workers….. you’re hardly going to build the high wage, high standards Britain that we so desperately need.

"That’s why, despite the scale of the moment, all we can expect from this government is more of the same. A roadmap to yesterday, another decade of insecurity and inequality."

He said the response to the Covid crisis had seen the "best of Britain" but also exposed the country's "fragilities".

In a speech delivered virtually, Sir Keir said: "I believe there is a mood in the air that we don't detect often in Britain.

"It was there in 1945 after the sacrifice of war and it is there again now - it is there in the determination that our collective sacrifice must lead to a better future."

He said next month's Budget presented a "fork in the road" and offered the potential to "seize the moment" and create a future that looks "utterly unlike the past".

Sir Keir added: "We can't return to business as usual, certainly not to an economy rooted in insecurity and inequality."

The Labour leader also said that if he were Prime Minister, he would introduce a new "British Recovery Bond" that could raise billions to invest in local communities, jobs and businesses.

He said the upcoming Budget on March 3 is a "pivotal moment" but that he wants to lift the nation's sights beyond it and talk about the decade to come, saying "Labour’s priority will always be financial responsibility."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the pandemic was made worse because "the foundations of our society have been weakened over a decade".

He also criticised the Government's overall pandemic response, saying: "We've the worst death toll in Europe and the worst economic crisis of any major economy.

"Now, I've said a lot about the incompetence of the Government's handling of the pandemic and I make no apology for that.

"They have been slow at every stage. They've ignored advice. They haven't learnt from their mistakes.

"Yet a Government out of its depth is not even half the story.

"The terrible damage caused by the virus to health and to prosperity has been made all the worse because the foundations of our society have been weakened over a decade."