Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the UK government was putting the economy at risk and hit out at Prime Minister Liz Truss’ “trickle down economy” plan after the pound fell to a record low against the dollar.
Sterling fell to a low of $1.0327 on Mondaybefore stabilizing at around $1.07 following lows seen after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled his A £45bn package of tax cuts in Friday’s mini-budget.
Speaking at the Labor conference in Liverpool, she described the “trickle-down economy” as an idea that had been “tried, tested and failed”.
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“We are facing a national emergency,” she said. “Energy prices are driving up the cost of the weekly food shop, people’s wages are not keeping up.
“The chancellor had an opportunity on Friday to put forward a serious response to the cost of living crisis. And he failed.”
Ms Reeves added: “The message from the financial markets was clear on Friday and the message is even starker this morning with sterling falling [and] that means higher prices.”
Ms Reeves promised a new deal for working people with enhanced rights, saying “the minimum wage will be set at a level that reflects the real cost of living”.
Among her priorities, she said she would double the number of medical school places “so our NHS has the doctors we need”, as well as double the number of district nurses and create 10,000 more nurse and midwifery places each year.
“Those at the top will pay their share”
The shadow chancellor said the new jobs – which include 5,000 new health visitors – will be funded by the return of the 45p income tax rate cut introduced by the government last week.
She said, “I can tell you, those at the top will pay their share.”
Labor said the tax cuts would cost £6bn by 2026/27 and would only benefit the highest 600,000 earners – who would each receive £10,000.
The party said that reverse cutthey could fund “one of the biggest expansions of the NHS workforce in history”.
The shadow chancellor described the Conservative Party’s record as “12 years of failure”, adding: “It’s time for a government that is on your side and that government is Labour.”
She said: “The Prime Minister is content to let the energy giants pocket the money and leave it to your children and grandchildren to take the money.
“In these Tories, those with the broadest shoulders carry the lightest load. And not by chance, but by choice.
“It’s time for a government that’s on your side.”
Sky News’ deputy political editor said the speech represented a “dramatic escalation” of Labour’s attack rhetoric.
The shadow chancellor, who was previously the Bank of England’s economist, accused the current government of undermining the Bank of England’s independence and “silencing” the Office for Budget Responsibility.
She said: “The chancellor and the prime minister… resemble two desperate gamblers in a casino chasing a loss. But they don’t play with their money, they play with yours.”