April 25, 2024

Reeves: Labour faces inheriting worst economy ‘since Second World War’

Labour would inherit the worst economic situation of any incoming government “since the Second World War” if the party comes into power at the next general election, the shadow chancellor has said.

Speaking with Sky News, Rachel Reeves pointed to “debt interest payments, growth, living standards and taxation” as she accused the Conservative Party of “burning the whole house down” during its time in government.

She told the broadcaster: “This is the worst inheritance any incoming government will have had since the Second World War in terms of debt interest payments, growth, living standards and taxation.

I want taxes on working people to be lower. But it has to be affordable

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves

“(Former chancellor) George Osborne said in 2010 that they were going to fix the roof. What they’ve done is smash the windows, broken the door down and are burning the whole house down.

“That is the reality for whoever is prime minister and chancellor after the next election – that’s the inheritance that whoever forms the next government is going to have to deal with.”

Her comments come ahead of next week’s spring Budget, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said to be considering a squeeze on public spending plans in order to deliver tax cuts in the fiscal event on March 6.

Mr Hunt faces continued pressure from Conservatives to cut taxes when he delivers what is likely to be his final Budget before the next election, as the overall tax burden approaches record levels.

Ms Reeves signalled she would potentially replicate any impending tax cuts, but they would need to be in line with her fiscal rules.

She said: “Fiscal responsibility is non-negotiable for me. The sums have to add up.

“Everything will be subject to the fiscal rules I’ve set out.

“I want taxes on working people to be lower. But it has to be affordable.”

If Labour does emerge victorious in the election, Ms Reeves said there would be a “relentless focus” on economic growth.

“I am not going to be able to turn everything round overnight,” she said.

“We are going to have to grow the economy. There will be a relentless focus on what we need to grow the economy.”

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