Ed Miliband has accused the government of failing to make a green transition “affordable for families hit by a cost of living crisis” in response to Boris Johnson’s speech to the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference.
Commenting after the Prime Minister addressed the CBI this morning, Labour’s Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary warned that the government is “failing Britain’s automotive companies and workers”.
“Rather than step up to support the car industry in the global race for green technologies, ministers have stepped back and left manufacturers, workers and the public on their own, failing to take the action necessary to make the switch affordable for families hit by a cost of living crisis,” Miliband said.
“To back the car industry and create jobs, Labour would bring forward ambitious proposals to spark an electric vehicle revolution in every part of the country. By extending the help to buy an electric car for those on lower and middle incomes and accelerating the roll-out of charging points in areas that have been left out, we would ensure that everyone could benefit and make the green transition fair.”
Miliband set out his party’s vision for a green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, calling for an “electric vehicle revolution” backing car manufactures, creating jobs and boosting zero-emission car ownership.
The Prime Minister appeared to lose track of his notes while delivering his speech to the CBI today, saying “forgive me, forgive me, forgive me” while hesitating, groaning and shuffling papers. He then resumed and talked about business confidence.
Johnson told the CBI about visiting Peppa Pig World, and asked: “Who would have believed that a pig that looks like a hairdryer, or possibly a Picasso-like hairdryer, a pig that was rejected by the BBC, would now be exported to 180 countries?”
Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, described the speech as “shambolic” and said it showed he takes British business “unseriously”. She added: “No one was laughing, because the joke’s not funny anymore. Labour is the true party of business.”
The Prime Minister today described levelling up as the “moral thing” but also as “an economic imperative”, adding that if growth was spread across the UK “there would be absolutely no stopping us”. He said: “Fate has handed us an opportunity to do that.”
His comments come a week after the government controversially scaled back transport infrastructure plans, breaking key pledges to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail and branches of HS2, across the North of England.
Grant Shapps confirmed that, under the integrated rail plan, the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds has been scrapped and that plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail, a new east-to-west high-speed line across the North, have been downgraded.
Under the changed proposals, Northern Powerhouse Rail will no longer go through Bradford as previously promised by ministers. Bradford in Yorkshire is the seventh biggest but worst connected major city in the country.
30 mayors and council leaders from the North, including one Conservative, have put their name to a joint letter saying that the rail plan is inadequate, that it could hold back the North and that MPs should be given a free vote on it.
Keir Starmer argued that the government failed “the first test of levelling up” with the integrated rail plan and accused Johnson of betraying the voters in the North, saying that “you can’t believe a word the Prime Minister says”.
Northern MP and Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon, responding to the statement in parliament last week, accused the government of having “completely sold us out”, adding: “What we’ve been given today is the great train robbery.”