Rachel Reeves Says There Are No ‘No-Go Areas’ for Labour in UK Election

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(Bloomberg) -- Rachel Reeves suggested Labour can now win anywhere in the UK after the Conservative Party’s mismanagement of the economy eroded trust in the government.

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Reeves — who is set to become Chancellor of the Exchequer if her opposition party wins a general election widely expected in the fall, was speaking after Labour won a resounding victory in local elections last week, confirming polls that show the party has a huge lead over the governing Conservatives — who lost almost half of the seats they were defending.

“There are no more no-go areas for the Labour party,” Reeves told an audience of financial services professionals at the Association for British Insurers in London on Monday. “People voted for change.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is pinning his hopes of an polling comeback on an improvement in living standards, as inflation falls growth accelerates and his £20 billion ($25 billion) cut to national insurance contributions is felt. But Reeves accused the government of “gaslighting” the public about Britain’s economic health as she sought to define the narrative ahead of official data this week that is expected to show a brief technical recession has ended.

First quarter growth figures on Friday will show the economy growing again. On Thursday, the Bank of England is expected to signal that it remains on track to cut interest rates in the summer, with markets saying August remains possible for a first quarter point reduction from 5.25%, a 15-year high. Inflation is also forecast to fall back to around the 2% target later this month.

“By the time of the next election, we can - and should - expect interest rates to be lower, Britain to be out of recession and inflation to have returned to the Bank of England’s target,” Reeves said. “Indeed, these things could happen this month. I already know what the prime minister and chancellor will say in response to one or all these events happening. They have been saying it for months now. ‘Our plan is working;’ ‘The economy is turning a corner;’ ‘stick with us.’”


She reiterated a pledge that Labour would fight the general election on the economy, saying the model of growth pursued by the Tories is “not working.”

“I’m just so much more ambitious for our country than that.” Reeves said. “I want living standards to be sustainably improving; businesses to feel that they can invest in Britain: not merely hitting the inflation target and not being in recession.”

She also promised to reform employment rights, because “fair pay and in-work security are crucial not only to fairness and dignity, but to our productivity too.”

Responding to earlier Labour attacks on the Tory record, Treasury minister Bim Afolami said in a statement that “all Labour would do is take us back to square one with higher taxes, higher unemployment, an illegal amnesty on immigration and a betrayal of pensioners.”

But after the Tories cycled through five prime ministers since 2016, Reeves sought to illustrate how much her party has changed under the leadership of Keir Starmer by flipping a Tory electoral slogan from 2015 that had promised “stability” in lieu of the “chaos” Britain would experience if it voted Labour.

“The choice at the general election is simple,” Reeves said. Five more years of chaos with the Conservatives that will continue Britain on a path of economic decline. Or stability with a changed Labour that can offer hope, with a long-term plan to make working people better off. It is time to turn the page, to start a new chapter for Britain’s economy.”

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