Rachel Reeves speaks at a press conference as the UK enters recession

Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking at a press conference today after it was confirmed that the UK has entered recession. She said:

Good morning.

The Office for National Statistics has today confirmed that Britain has fallen into recession. And we now know that, GDP per capita fell in every quarter of the last year. 

Let me start by saying that this is deeply worrying news for families struggling to make ends meet, and for businesses too.  

These are provisional figures. They may change.

But it is absolutely clear that Britain remains trapped in a spiral of economic decline. 

This isn’t a question of lines on a graph. It’s about the health of our high streets; about growing businesses; secure, well-paid jobs; and money in the pockets of working people. 

The British people did not need to see these figures today to tell them that the economy is not working. That we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis and that they are worse off. 

But these numbers shine a spotlight on the scale of that failure. 

The confirmation of recession exposes a government and a Prime Minister completely out of touch with the realities on the ground.

A government that for too long has looked on economic failure with complacency, content to be managers of decline. 

Rishi Sunak claims that he has a plan, but the plan is not working.

He claims the economy has turned a corner, but the economy is shrinking.

He claims he doesn’t want to take us back to square one, but we are going backwards. 

The Prime Minister’s claims are in tatters. The cornerstone of his leadership has been shattered. The promise to grow the economy has been broken.

Our economy is now smaller than when Rishi Sunak entered 10 Downing Street in 2022.  

Having spent years in the slow lane, Rishi Sunak has now put our economy into reverse.

This is Rishi’s recession and it is the British people who will pay the price. 

This is simply the latest chapter in a long story of economic failure and stagnation.

A story that reaches back more than a decade, felt in stagnant household incomes, in the decay of our high streets, and in creeping insecurity.

I often think of a young family I met in Worthing, almost two years ago now.

A mum and dad, working five jobs between them, struggling to make ends meet, constantly juggling work and childcare.

As a family, they only get half a day a week together. They felt that any hope of buying a home of their own had evaporated. Good people. Working hard.

And do you know what the mum said to me? She said: “you just wonder if you’re doing something wrong”.

Well something has gone profoundly wrong. Because an economy that isn’t working for working people, isn’t working at all. 

It is time the Conservative Party took some responsibility.

The origins of many of the crises that we have faced are global – pandemic, war, energy crisis.

But their consequences have been exacerbated by the choices of Conservative governments.

Each time crisis has hit, Britain has been acutely exposed. 

First, austerity, which choked off investment. 

Next, years of political instability, which has fuelled economic instability.

Brexit without a plan.

The Conservatives’ mini budget, sending mortgages and interest rates soaring.

Five Prime Ministers, seven Chancellors, 11 plans for growth – each yielding less than the last. 

If the UK economy had grown at the average rate of other OECD economies over the past decade, it would now be £140 billion larger – equivalent to £5,000 per household every year. 

That would also mean an additional £50 billion in tax revenues to invest in our crumbling public services. 

Today, the average British family is 20 per cent worse off than their German counterparts. 

One in three working-age families have less than £1,000 in savings.

And the typical family renewing their mortgage this year will find themselves paying an additional £240 a month.

Over this year and last, the fixed rate mortgages of more than three million people will come to end, all paying the price of the Tory mortgage bombshell.

And there are 700,000 more people out of the workforce now than when the pandemic struck four years ago. 

The Conservative Party can’t fix the problem, they are the architects of the problem. Britain needs change. Our economy needs change.

Not just a change in government. A change in our economic approach, casting aside failed economic ideas in response to a new age of insecurity.

To embrace a new, emerging economic consensus that this Conservative government chooses to ignore. It’s what I call ‘securonomics’. 

From instability and short-termism to a mission-based government, prioritising economic security, for families and for our country.

Pro-worker and pro-business, in the knowledge that each depends on the success of the other. 

A plan based on the understanding that wealth doesn’t just trickle from the top down.

It comes from the bottom up and the middle out – from the talent and the effort of millions of ordinary people and businesses. 

The times demand resolve, discipline, and a new vision for Britain in a renewed world, and a serious plan to back them up.

A plan supported by British business and developed in partnership with British business.

With Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, this is what you will get. This is Labour’s plan: stability, investment, reform.

Stability brought about by iron discipline, guided by strong fiscal rules, robust economic institutions, and with every policy that we announce – every line in our manifesto – fully costed and fully funded.

Investment, through partnership with the private sector: to steam ahead in the industries of the future, with a modern industrial strategy and a new National Wealth Fund to invest alongside business, in our automotive sector, in our ports, and in the future of our steel industry.

And with a new national champion in homegrown power, Great British Energy, leading the way on floating offshore wind, tidal and nuclear power, to ignite growth; boost our economic security, drive down energy bills, and create good, well-paid jobs in all part of Britain. 

And reform, starting with our planning system, taking on vested interests to get Britain building again.

Supporting working people to develop the skills to thrive in the changing world of work, to make work pay with a genuine living wage and a new deal for working people.

To cut the NHS backlog and get people back to work.

Stability, investment, reform: the foundations of a plan to break free of the Tories’ vicious cycle of stagnant growth, rising taxes, and falling living standards. To repair our economic security. 

I am under no illusion about the scale of the challenge that we may inherit. There are no short-cuts, no quick fixes, no easy answers. There are hard choices ahead. 

We will not shrink from those choices, nor the hard work required for a decade of national renewal. 

Labour will fight the next election on the economy. Every day we will expose what the Conservatives have done to our country. 

Because the questions people will ask ahead of the next election are simple: do you and your family feel better off after 14 years of Conservative government? 

Do our hospitals, our schools and our police work better than 14 years ago? 

Frankly, does anything in our country work better than when the Conservatives came to power 14 years ago? 

Here is further evidence today, in black and white: Britain has fallen into recession. 

It’s time to turn the page on 14 years of Conservative failure. It’s time to demand better than managed decline. It’s time to start a new chapter for Britain.

Thank you.