Rachel Reeves, Britain’s shadow Finance Minister, has said that the current U.K. business landscape pales in comparison to that of the U.S.
Chartered Management Institute
Britain’s shadow finance minister on Tuesday lambasted the country’s business environment under the current Conservative government, saying that companies currently deciding whether to invest in the U.K. or in the U.S. faced “a no-brainer” decision.
The Labour Party’s Rachel Reeves, who is vying for the top finance job at the next election, said that initiatives like the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act put the country at a clear advantage, and that Britain needs to create a similarly attractive framework for business investment.
“Businesses say to me: if we’ve got a choice between investing in the U.S. or investing in the U.K., I’m afraid, at the moment, it’s a no-brainer,” Reeves said at a conference hosted by the Chartered Management Institute.
“The deeper capital markets, as well as the government support for those growing industries, means investment in the U.S. makes sense in a way that it does not in the U.K.,” she said.
Reeves said that under Labour leadership, Britain would implement a “modern industrial strategy” encouraging the government and businesses to work in partnership. She did not give specific details of such a plan.
The opposition politician added that feats such as the U.K.’s record Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine rollout would not have been possible, were it not for longstanding partnerships between Britain’s universities and businesses.
“At a time of huge change, we’ve got to have a business and government partnership to seize some of these big opportunities that are out there for the taking,” she said.
“I don’t want to find ourselves, in 30 years’ time, looking back and wondering why we are importing all of our vehicles because we didn’t make the batteries here, why we are importing our steel because we didn’t move to green steel, why we’re importing our gas because we didn’t invest in hydrogen today.”
2024 election in sight
Britain’s opposition Labour party is gearing up for a possible win at the country’s next general election, likely due next year, but no later than January 2025.
The Labour party had a 17-point lead against the ruling Conservatives in the latest YouGov polling, maintaining a steady lead despite paring some gains since Liz Truss’ catastrophic premiership in October.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has been criticized for moving the party too far to the right, in an effort to court businesses and undecided voters.
Still, Reeves said that spurring economic growth in the U.K., which continues to lag behind its G-7 peers, would be the “absolute central mission” of an incoming Labour government.
“It’s up to business to create jobs and prosperity, but it’s up to government to provide the framework to encourage businesses to make those choices to invest here in the U.K. and create those opportunities.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, for his part, has named economic growth as one of the five key priorities of his Conservative government, while also touting plans to make Britain the next Silicon Valley.