Starmer pledges to reverse “shocking” manufacturing decline caused by Tories

Elliot Chappell
© Twitter/@Keir_Starmer

Keir Starmer has promised to reverse what the Labour leader described as a “shocking decline” in the number of manufacturing jobs across the country over the past decade caused by “the government’s failure to back British business”.

Ahead of a visit to Burnley on Tuesday, the party leader argued that “we must now make Brexit work”, saying that it is “not enough to just leave the EU and think the job is done”. He added: “That means backing the places that powered our country to get our economy motoring again.”

Research from Labour, published today, shows that the number of jobs in manufacturing fell by 93,000 between the end of 2009 and the end of 2021. 16,000 of the jobs lost were in the North of England, while 18,500 were in the Midlands. Germany added nearly one million manufacturing jobs between 2010 and 2020.

“For too long, the decline of manufacturing has been treated as if it was inevitable and irreversible. I will never accept that. But these figures show how the government’s failure to back British business has led to a shocking decline in the number of jobs,” Starmer said.

“The next Labour government would support our manufacturers with practical plans to buy, make and sell in Britain. We would be as ambitious for towns and cities across the country as they are for themselves, investing in skills, technology, and quality jobs – so that people once again feel the benefits of British industry.”

He described the decline in jobs as “personal” because his father was a toolmaker. “I know the pride that comes with creating and building things – and the pain felt when the Tories dismantle that hard work,” the Labour leader said.

“That’s why it’s a crucial part of my contract with the British people, which will build a new Britain that guarantees security, prosperity and respect for all.”

Starmer urged the government to learn from companies such as What More in Burnley, which he said has “bucked the trend in manufacturing decline” by investing in technology and products. He added: “The quality jobs here are a source of local pride. We want to see this replicated all across the country.”

The visit is the second instalment of a three-day tour Starmer is undertaking to put his ‘contract with the British people’ directly to voters. His trip to Burnley followed a visit to Sunderland on Monday, where he blamed the government for creating the “perfect storm” by failing to tackle crime and provide opportunities for young people.

The tour also follows a major speech delivered by the Labour leader earlier this year, in which set out his new “contract with the British people” based on the three principles of “security”, “prosperity” and “respect”.

Rachel Reeves unveiled Labour’s plan to “make, sell and buy more in Britain” last summer. The Shadow Chancellor outlined a programme to to raise standards, award more public contracts to British businesses and create “jobs of the future”.

Labour’s plan involves changing public procurement processes, including by adding “stretching social, environmental and labour clauses”, reshoring jobs, improving training opportunities and “putting the growth of local industries first”.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was contacted for comment.

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