Keir Starmer Says "Strong Partnership With Business" Is Key To Pandemic Recovery
Keir Starmer has pledged the party will become the party of "financial responsibility"
Labour leader Keir Starmer has said business was not something "just to be tolerated or taxed" in a major new speech setting out his approach to the economy.
He pledged to make Labour the party of "financial responsibility" and said next month's budget was a "fork in the road", insisting there was "no time for a second wave of austerity" as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
In what seemed like a snub to former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, he claimed his party had "for too long... failed to realise that the only way to deliver social justice and equality is through a strong partnership with business".
"Under my leadership, that mind-set will change," he said.
"I believe in the power of active, enterprising government working alongside British business.
"Not because I believe business is something just to be tolerated or taxed, but because I know that government can’t do this on its own.
"And that a new partnership with British businesses is the only way to build a secure economy, strong families and a prosperous country.
"The vast majority of businesses know this too. They know the days of ignoring their social and climate responsibilities are long gone."
In the speech, which comes after internal criticism about Starmer's apparent failure to set out a clear vision for the party, he called on the government to use the pandemic abandon a "business as usual approach".
Pointing to the post-War Beveridge report, he added: "I believe people are now looking for more from their government - like they were after the Second World War.
"They’re looking for government to help them through difficult times, to provide security, and to build a better future for them and for their families.
"A government that knows the value of public services, not just the price in the market.
"A government that invests in British skills, science, universities and manufacturing, that provides world-class education for all of our children, and whose driving mission is to tackle inequalities from birth.
"A government that can ensure people don’t have to leave their home town to have a chance of getting a good job and won't leave university with crippling debt."
Starmer also announced plans for a new British Recovery Bond to allow people in invest savings built up during the pandemic into their local communities and businesses.
The Labour leader said the bond would help provide financial security for people as the economy recovers while boosting investment to "science, skills, technology and British manufacturing".
He urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to support proposals for 100,000 start-up loans to help businesses across the UK rebuild after the pandemic. Sunak is due to set out a Budget, including pandemic recovery plans, at the beginning of March.
Starmer added: "For too long, businesses have been concentrated in too few parts of our country
"This doesn’t reflect where our talent lies and it stifles potential. This is just a start in addressing that.
"But we can’t afford to ignore it any longer."