Labour has 'died trying to position itself as party of business'

Labour has ‘died on the altar of short-term political posturing’ by trying to position itself as the party of business, leading housebuilder claims

Labour’s attempt to reposition itself as the party of business has ‘died on the altar of short-term political posturing’, a leading housebuilder said yesterday.

Peter Truscott, chief executive of Crest Nicholson, savaged Keir Starmer over a U-turn last week that saw Labour block planning reforms that could have cleared the way for 100,000 new homes.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove had proposed a change in the law to scrap so-called ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules blamed for holding up building projects.

Labour initially indicated it would back the change, but then reversed its position after a reshuffle saw deputy leader Angela Rayner replace Lisa Nandy in charge of the levelling up brief. 

The move was defeated in the Lords last week, prompting Mr Gove to accuse Sir Keir of putting ‘short term political calculation ahead of the long term interests of the country’.

Keir Starmer’s u-turn on planning reforms led the boss of housing firm Crest Nicholson to say the party was not ‘the party of business’

Angela Rayner (pictured) has replaced Lisa Nandy as shadow levelling up secretary following a reshuffle

Labour has been making concerted efforts to cosy up to business leaders after alienating the sector under Jeremy Corbyn.

But Mr Truscott said Labour’s U-turn made a mockery of the charm offensive. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the decision on nutrients was ‘very unhelpful’.

He said the Government had been ‘late’ to come forward with a ‘workable plan’, and castigated Labour for blocking it. ‘Labour now the party of business? That died on the altar of short-term political posturing,’ he said.

Mr Nicholson said housebuilding was not responsible for nutrient pollution and said people struggling to get on the housing ladder would suffer as a result of Labour’s U-turn.

‘This is about people needing homes,’ he said. ‘One hundred thousand homes will be held up – a third of them affordable homes. Lots of jobs too. These things matter.’

His comments came as senior union leaders called on Sir Keir to be ‘more radical’.

Sharon Graham of Unite called on the Labour leader to drop his plan to block new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, which she said had left many supporters ‘absolutely furious’.

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