- Starmer drew up the Green Growth Plan in Davos
- Says Sunak’s absence was noted at the meeting
- No fossil fuel investment under a Labor government
DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 19 (Reuters) – British Labor Party leader Keir Starmer launched his Green Growth Plan in Davos on Thursday and criticized British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for not attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.
Starmer, whose left-leaning opposition party is riding high in the polls ahead of elections in the next two years, told attendees at the Swiss resort that a future Labor government would pursue a “proactive state” ready to partner with business.
He said Britain, beset by a cost of living crisis that has sparked widespread strikes, could benefit from a clean energy plan that would cut fuel costs, create jobs and contribute to tackling the climate crisis.
“This has huge potential in terms of wind and offshore wind in the UK,” Starmer told the WEF panel.
Starmer said the Davos meeting was an opportunity to talk to CEOs and investors who could partner with a future Labor government to push forward the party’s green property plan, which includes setting up a new vehicle called Great British Energy.
He said Sunak’s absence from the meeting was noted by some of the people he spoke to, including his party colleague Rachel Reeves, who will play finance minister in a future Labor government.
“Someone has to be an ambassador for Britain and the prime minister and chancellor are not here,” she told a separate audience, referring to Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt.
“We are here to send a message that at the next election… the British economy will be open for business again.”
Although Sunak did not attend the event, the British government sent Trade Minister Cammy Badenoch and Business Minister Grant Shapps to Davos.
And former prime minister Boris Johnson also made an appearance, which he used to urge Britain’s allies to double down on sending military equipment to Ukraine.
Labour’s economic credibility with financial institutions and markets, which have been wary of some of its policies in the past, suffered under Starmer’s more radical predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, who was popular with left-wing voters but was unable to oust the ruling Conservative Party in an election. .
Corbyn’s then finance policy adviser, John McDonnell, went to Davos in 2018 to tell the global elite that capitalism was living on borrowed time.
This time, Reeves and Starmer participated in a business roundtable organized by US bank JP Morgan with participants mainly from energy, private equity and other financial services.
Starmer said Labor wanted to establish a new role for fossil fuel companies in the energy transition and there would be no new investment in the oil and gas sectors under a Labor government.
“What we’ve said about oil and gas is that there needs to be a transition. Obviously that will play a part in the transition but not new investment, not new fields in the North Sea, because we need to go net. Zero, we’re sure of that. What needs to be done is that renewable energy is where we go next,” he said.
Britain has held a new licensing round for oil and gas exploration licenses in the North Sea under the Conservatives and avoided joining the international club of countries that ban the development of new oil and gas fields.
Reeves said Labor is consulting with business on what it sees as regulatory and other priorities in other key areas, including life sciences, financial services and improving EU relations in the wake of Brexit.
“We’re developing these plans together with business so I think they can see their fingerprints on a lot of things that we’re saying,” she told Reuters.
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Reporting by Brenda Goh; Written by Mark John; Edited by Alexander Smith
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