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Labour’s plans require no more tax rises, Reeves says

Labour will not announce any additional tax rises during the election campaign, Rachel Reeves has said.

The shadow chancellor also ruled out holding an emergency budget if Labour wins the election, saying she would not hold a fiscal event without a forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility – a process that would take 10 weeks.

Her statement means that a Labour government would be unlikely to bring forward a budget until at least September, given the timings of parliamentary recesses.

Standing in front of two jet engines at Rolls-Royce’s plant in Derby on Tuesday, Ms Reeves said her party’s proposals mean there are “no additional tax rises needed beyond the ones I have set out”.

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The increases already proposed include closing “loopholes” in the windfall tax on oil and gas companies and the Government’s plans to tax non-doms, and making private schools subject to VAT.

Ms Reeves also hinted that she would like to cut income tax and national insurance, but would not do so without being able to say how she would fund those cuts.

In her speech, the shadow chancellor said Labour is now “the natural party of British business” and promised to lead “the most pro-growth, pro-business Treasury” in the UK’s history, adding that corporation tax would be capped at its current level under a Labour government.

General Election campaign 2024
Rachel Reeves gave her speech to business leaders at Rolls-Royce’s facility in Derby (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ms Reeves said: “I know there is no policy that I can announce, no plan that can be drawn up in Whitehall, that will not be improved from engagement with business, and our manifesto will bear the imprint of that engagement.”

She also sought to emphasise Labour’s dividing lines with the Conservatives, saying her party will fight the election on the economy and blaming “Tory instability” for Britain’s economic situation.

Ms Reeves urged voters to “pass judgment” on the Conservatives, saying they have “failed on the economy”.

Scores of business leaders have already backed Labour, with 121 executives writing to The Times on Tuesday to declare their support for the party.

One of the signatories, Iceland founder Sir Malcolm Walker, publicly backed the Conservatives in 2015 when they were led by then-prime minister David Cameron.

The executives said the General Election is a “chance to change the country”, adding: “The UK has the potential to be one of the strongest economies in the world. A lack of political stability and the absence of consistent economic strategy have held it back.”

General Election campaign 2024
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves insisted Labour is both pro-worker and pro-business (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

But the boss of Labour’s biggest union backer hit out at the inclusion of former Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye on the list of business supporters.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said that, under Mr Holland-Kaye, Heathrow was responsible for “one of, if not the most brutal example of fire and rehire during the Covid pandemic” and Labour “must immediately distance itself” from him.

Asked whether her backing for business comes at the expense of supporting workers, Ms Reeves insisted that Labour is both pro-worker and pro-business, “recognising that you can’t be one without the other”.

She added: “You can’t be pro-working people unless you’re pro the businesses that create the jobs and the prosperity to ensure that good jobs are available all across our country.

“And you can’t be pro-business unless you’re pro-skilling up and supporting working people to fulfil their potential.”