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Rachel Reeves says ‘I’m ready’ to become chancellor

Rachel Reeves has said she is ready to become Britain’s first female chancellor by portraying Labor as the party of business.

Five weeks before the general election on July 4, the shadow chancellor promised to “turn the page on chaos and decline” and “start a new chapter for Britain”.

In a major speech at a Rolls Royce site in Derby, Ms Reeves said becoming Chancellor would be the privilege of a lifetime and would require hard work and difficult choices.

But she said she was ready, promising to “lead the most pro-growth, pro-business Treasury our country has ever seen, with a focus on helping workers.”

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said she was a 'social democrat' when asked if she was a socialist (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said she was a 'social democrat' when asked if she was a socialist (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said she was a ‘social democrat’ when asked if she was a socialist (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Accompanied by business leaders who have backed Labor in the upcoming election, Ms Reeves reiterated Labor’s five missions for “a decade of national renewal”.

She detailed plans for 40,000 new appointments every week, a Border Security Command to “eliminate criminal gangs and strengthen our borders”, a state-owned Great British Energy, a crackdown on anti-social behavior and plans for 6,500 new teachers.

Ms Reeves said: “Serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer would be the privilege of my life, not to enjoy status, not as a step in a career, but to serve.

“I know the responsibility that comes with it – I take it.”

His speech was as follows:

  • Rishi Sunak said “as sure as night follows day” Labor would raise taxes.

  • Nigel Farage has repeated his calls for Rishi Sunak to debate him on immigration.

  • Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey has outlined plans to have environmental experts represented on water company boards to ensure sewage spills are taken seriously.

  • A leading economist has said Mr Sunak’s proposed tax break for pensioners is “simply the reversal of a tax rise proposed by the Tories”.

Speaking after 121 business leaders backed Labor as the “party of change” ahead of the election, Ms Reeves said the Labor government’s plans did not require further tax rises.

She outlined her ambition to cut income tax and national insurance contributions for workers, but said she would not announce tax cuts without clear funding.

Sir Keir Starmer said he would describe himself as a 'socialist' and a 'progressive' (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)Sir Keir Starmer said he would describe himself as a 'socialist' and a 'progressive' (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Sir Keir Starmer said he would describe himself as a ‘socialist’ and a ‘progressive’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Drawing a contrast between Labor and the Conservatives, she promised to “never play with public finances”.

And she accused Mr Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt of “singing in tune”, describing the party’s promise to abolish national insurance as an unfunded £46 billion tax cut.

Welcoming the flood of business leaders who are supporting her party, Ms Reeves said she was “not one of those politicians who thinks the private sector is a dirty word or a necessary evil”.

She added: “A few years ago you might not have expected to hear these things from the Labor Party. Think about how far we’ve come under Keir’s leadership in four short years.

“If we can change this party back to serving working people, if we can put it back at the center of politics, if we can bring business back to Labour, then I know we can bring business back to Britain.

“Bring investment back to Britain, bring growth back to Britain, bring hope back to Britain.”

She refused to follow Sir Keir in describing herself as a socialist, instead saying she considers herself a social democrat. And Ms Reeves has ruled out an early Budget this summer if Labor wins, instead promising to give the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) time to produce forecasts.

His speech comes as Mr Sunak addresses a campaign event in Stoke on Trent, warning staff that “as clear as night follows day… Labor will run out of money and raise taxes”.

Rishi Sunak warned Labor would raise taxes (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)Rishi Sunak warned Labor would raise taxes (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak warned Labor would raise taxes (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)

The Prime Minister was selling workers on his promise of “triple lock plus” aimed at increasing pensioners’ incomes and his plan to impose national service on 18-year-olds.

But it suffered a major blow as Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said the proposed tax break for pensioners was “simply a reversal of a tax rise proposed by the Tories”.

Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4 Today program: “Pensioners used to get a bigger personal allowance than people of working age – it was the Tories who scrapped it.

“So this is one of many examples of tax policies that have been reversed by the same government.

“Secondly, it is worth saying that in part, looking forward, this is simply a reversal of a tax increase proposed by the Conservatives. The idea is that the allocation will not increase at all based on inflation over the next three years is simply not imposing the previously proposed tax increase.