Keir Starmer dropping his flagship £28 billion green investment pledge would be the “most stupid decision the Labour Party has made”, a former adviser to Sir Tony Blair has said.
John McTernan, who served as Blair’s political secretary, said the move was “very disappointing”.
Reports have suggested that Keir Starmer will formally drop the £28 billion figure today.
Asked to comment on the reports, McTernan told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “It is probably the most stupid decision the Labour Party has made.”
“This is a decision that we have to make now to decarbonise our economy and it is one which stands for a purpose, a great purpose, a grand purpose. Great parties have great causes”.
He added: “If you don’t have a great cause, you want to change from this Government, sure, but change to what? What is the change Labour now offers? It is very disappointing.”
Starmer’s reported decision to drop the £28 billion green pledge follows weeks of uncertainty about the policy.
In recent days, the Labour leader has insisted he still intended to meet the pledge, which was first made in 2021. But a public divide between him and the shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, had emerged — with Reeves repeatedly refusing to commit to the £28 billion investment target.
Last week, the shadow chancellor was asked on ten occasions if she wanted to commit to the so-called Green Prosperity Plan as it previously stood. Instead, she told Sky News: “The Conservatives crashed the economy and sent mortgage rates and the cost of government borrowing soaring”.
“That does change what will be possible for an incoming Labour government.”
Starmer, on the other hand, cited the £28 billion figure as recently as this week. He told Times Radio: “We want to have clean power by 2030 … That’s where the £28bn comes in, that investment that is desperately needed for that mission.”
Reports have suggested an internal divide in the party over the figure, with supporters thought to be shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband, also a former Labour leader; deputy leader Angela Rayner; and shadow international development minister Lisa Nandy.
Among those opposed to the £28 billion target were shadow Cabinet Office minister Pat McFadden, top strategist Morgan McSweeney and Reeves.
Announcing the plan in 2021 at Labour Party conference, the shadow chancellor promised that a Labour government would borrow £28 billion a year for five years to fund green energy projects and infrastructure.
Vowing to be Britain’s first “green chancellor”, she said: “As chancellor I will not shirk our responsibility to future generations and to workers and businesses in Britain”.
She added: “No dither, no delay. Labour will meet the challenge head on and seize the opportunities of the green transition. We will provide certainty and show leadership in this decisive decade.”
Jeremy Hunt has claimed the decision to axe the £28 billion green investment pledge showed “what sort of chaos” Britain would face if Labour is elected later this year.
He tweeted: “After four years of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership it seems like Labour’s only economic plan is to copy the Conservatives.
“But if their policies flipflop like this in opposition, what sort of chaos would the British people have to endure if they got into power?”