Labour proposes 'buy British' policy for public bodies
4th July 2021

Labour wants to force public bodies to ‘buy British’ in patriotic plan to take on the Tories as Sir Keir Starmer tries to rejuvenate his leadership after the party’s narrow victory at Batley by-election

  • Labour wants public sector organisations to award more contracts to UK firms
  • The party is unveiling a patriotic promise to ‘make, sell and buy more in Britain’
  • Will be viewed as an attempt to counter Boris Johnson’s ‘Global Britain’ push 

A Labour government would force public sector organisations to ‘buy British’ under new patriotic plans designed to create more high-skilled jobs. 

Sir Keir Starmer’s post-Brexit economic vision includes a promise to ‘make, sell and buy more in Britain’.

The policy announcement will be seen as an attempt to counter Boris Johnson’s ‘Global Britain’ drive as Sir Keir tries to rejuvenate his leadership after the party’s narrow victory in the Batley and Spen by-election. 

Sir Keir’s plans, first reported by The Observer, would see every public organisation told to award more contracts to UK companies. 

Sir Keir Starmer’s post-Brexit economic vision includes a promise to ‘make, sell and buy more in Britain’

Public sector bodies would also face a legal requirement to disclose how many contracts they have awarded to domestic firms.

A review of major infrastructure projects like HS2 would also be undertaken to determine whether more of the required materials could be sourced in the UK.

The plan was confirmed this morning by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves who denied it would involve ‘leaning on’ companies to offer contracts to British firms purely because they have a Union flag on their website. 

She told Sky News: ‘You can look at the plans of the businesses bidding for that contract to see what impact it would have on the wider UK economy, what strategic value a bid has.’

Ms Reeves continued: ‘If it is creating jobs in this country – high-skilled, well-paid jobs and apprenticeships – and that means that we’re building up that skill set so we can export around the world, those bids should get more weight than bids that are creating no jobs, no skills and no investment in this country.’ 

She insisted that the policy was not about excluding foreign companies from competing in Britain, adding: ‘Like in France and like in the United States, we would take into account the social impact of any public procurement.’

The shadow chancellor added: ‘It wouldn’t be me a chancellor leaning on public bodies to award contracts, what it is about is changing the procurement framework, so you can take into account labour standards, job creation in this country and environmental standards as well.’

Ms Reeves said the plans would help to get the British economy ‘firing on all cylinders’.     

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves denied the policy would involve ‘leaning on’ companies to offer contracts to British firms purely because they have a Union flag on their website

Labour hopes the policy would create more high-skilled jobs in sectors like green energy and finance.     

Sir Keir has been criticised by some in Labour for failing to spell out to voters what he stands for. 

Simon Fletcher, a former adviser to the leader, said Sir Keir had suffered from a ‘lack of definition’ and that he must paint in ‘much more primary colours’ if he is to win over voters. 

Labour figures believe that a bold offer on the economy will be key to the party’s hopes of winning the 2024 general election. 

The new policy will be seen as an attempt to counter to Mr Johnson’s ‘Global Britain’ approach amid fears trade deals targeted by the PM could see UK firms and industries lose out.

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