Sir Keir warns mini-budget ‘does nothing’ for working people – but doesn’t say if he would reverse tax cuts

Politics

Sir Keir Starmer has accused the Conservatives of showing their “true colours” by unveiling tax cuts that will benefit the wealthiest most.

Arriving at Labour’s party conference in Liverpool, he vowed to set out a plan for “an economy that works for working people” – unlocking “growth for everyone”.

According to the Opposition, the mini-budget will benefit the richest 1%, and make the next generation worse off.

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Ahead of the conference’s official opening tomorrow, Sir Keir told a crowd gathered outside the Pullman Hotel: “After 12 long years of Tory failure, didn’t they just show their true colours yesterday?

“Their driving ideology – make the rich richer and do nothing for working people.

“Well, this conference is our chance to set out the alternative, to make our case for an economy that works for working people, growth for everyone everywhere, wherever they are, a fairer, greener future. Let’s do it.”

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On Friday, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced a raft of measures aimed at boosting economic growth.

The basic rate of income tax is being cut to 19% and the top 45% rate of tax is being abolished altogether, meaning higher earners will pay a flat rate of 40%.

Mr Kwarteng also confirmed the planned increase in corporation tax from 19% to 25% will be axed, while stamp duty will be cut for homebuyers.

Sir Keir dodged a question on whether Labour would reverse the tax cuts if they came into power.

A senior Labour source told Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby that the party would support the basic rate being cut to 19%, but would vote against scrapping the 45% band.

“As for what we’ll do in government, no sensible opposition gets into income tax specifics this far out from an election – especially when this lot can’t even publish an OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) report on the state of the economy,” they added.

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The mini-budget: Who benefits?

What to expect from Labour’s annual conference

Sir Keir is expected to attempt to fight back against the chancellor’s tax giveaways by unveiling rival plans to boost economic growth at its conference in Liverpool, which will conclude on Wednesday.

Labour is heading into this conference in a stronger position electorally than it has been for some time, according to the polls.

The four-day conference will begin on Sunday with a tribute to the Queen by Sir Keir followed by the national anthem.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC that the decision to sing the national anthem at Labour’s party conference is “very odd”.

Following this, deputy leader Angela Rayner is expected to outline Labour’s policy agenda and its plan to plough billions into jobs and regeneration.

“The Tories have left a legacy of sleaze, cronyism and corruption, with the British people left to pick up the bill,” she will declare.

“Labour will unleash the power of procurement for the public good.”

On Monday, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will spell out Labour’s alternative to Kwasi Kwarteng’s tax cuts bonanza before Sir Keir’s big speech on Tuesday on “a fairer, greener future for Britain”.

Labour’s party conference comes as Sir Keir faces questions about his position on shadow ministers joining picket lines amid ongoing strikes by rail workers and postal workers and the threat of action by many more groups.

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Further strike action looms

Walkouts have dominated the country in recent months, with staff demanding better pay and working conditions.

The Conservatives are pledging new anti-strike laws.

Labour was born from the trade union movement and still benefits considerably financially from its affiliation to the unions.

But Sir Keir has stayed away from backing the actions of this key part of his party, even going as far as banning his frontbench team from joining any picket lines.

Read more:
Pork markets and P45s: The highs and lows of political conference season
Key mini-budget announcements
Trussonomics: The five key points – and will they work?

Speaking ahead of Labour’s party conference, Unite’s leader Sharon Graham accused the Labour leader of “sticking two fingers up” at workers.

The Labour Party says this year’s conference will welcome more than 12,000 attendees for four days of policy discussion, training and events.

And a time when the party is strapped for cash, it claims this year’s exhibition is the most successful in 15 years in income and the number of exhibitions.

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At the same time as the party conference, former leader Mr Corbyn and his left-wing allies including John McDonnell, Len McCluskey and RMT leader Mick Lynch will appear at their parallel radical alternative event, The World Transformed festival, which is also taking place in Liverpool.

They are due to speak at sessions including The Working Class Strikes Back.

The Conservative party conference will follow next week and will take place in Birmingham.

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