Labour is “ready for partnership” with business, Starmer tells CBI conference

Elliot Chappell
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Keir Starmer has just finished his speech to the CBI conference in Birmingham. The Labour leader explained that a Labour government would be “pragmatic” in its approach to immigration – aiming to “help the British economy off its immigration dependency” and to “start investing more in training up workers who are already here” but not ignoring the need for skilled workers to come to the country. Starmer also promised a “new partnership” with business, one which the party has billed as “different than anything that has gone before”.

“This is a different Labour Party and there’s no going back. We’re ready for partnership,” Starmer told business leaders. And that partnership is not a “nice-to-have”, he argued this morning, but an “economic imperative” after the “immense” damage done to the public finances by the Tories. He accused the Conservatives of hiding behind global shocks, but explained: “Nobody criticises the government for not anticipating the war in Ukraine, or denies the war was the spark for the cost-of-living crisis – but the war didn’t ban onshore wind, the war didn’t scrap home insulation and the war didn’t stall British nuclear energy.”

Elsewhere in the ‘broad-church’ Labour family, Momentum has warned that its future is “at risk” due to rising costs and an exodus of left-wing Labour members under Starmer’s leadership. In a video released this morning, the group that emerged out of Jeremy Corbyn’s 2015 leadership campaign, members were told that “we can’t let everything we’ve built disappear” and urged to up their membership subs by the price of a cup of coffee as part of a new fundraising bid. The fundraiser is being supported by several MPs, including longstanding Corbyn allies John McDonnell and Ian Lavery, as well as members of the 2019 intake such as Nadia Whittome, Zarah Sultana, Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Apsana Begum.

According to one Momentum source, the financial situation is “serious but not critical” but the group “can’t continue to operate at the level we have been” unless its members provide additional money. Appearing not particularly fussed by the situation, a senior Labour source reportedly said today that Momentum simply has an “obsession with damaging the Labour Party” and described the organisation as “utterly irrelevant”.

On LabourList this morning, we have a piece from Olivia Blake MP in response to the autumn statement last week, explaining why it is time to “ditch the austerity agenda”. And Momentum co-chair Hilary Schan and former co-chair Andrew Scattergood write that Momentum is “building up a viable path to socialism in Britain” and tell readers why it matters.

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