Labour launches manifesto as Sir Keir Starmer pledges to end political 'pantomime' and 'rebuild Britain'

Sir Keir Starmer has promised to "end to the desperate era of gestures and gimmicks" with a "credible" long-term plan from Labour to "rebuild our country" - if they win the election on 4 July.

There were no surprises at the party's manifesto launch in Manchester, with the leader sticking to the "five missions" for government he set out last year, rather than revealing new policies.

But Sir Keir made no apology for it, rejecting a question by Sky News' political editor Beth Rigby, who asked whether it was a "Captain Caution" manifesto designed to protect Labour's poll lead.

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"I'm not going to do what Rishi Sunak [has done in the campaign], which is to offer things that he can't deliver, because they're unfunded," he said. "People have had too much of that and are fed up with that.

"This is a serious plan, carefully thought through. It is not about rabbits out of the hat, it's not about pantomime, we've had enough of that. I'm running as a candidate to be prime minister, not a candidate to run the circus."

The theme ran throughout his speech as he defended the lack of new policy, despite the looming general election.

Pointing to the seat where Nigel Farage is running to become an MP, he told the audience: "If you want politics as pantomime, I hear Clacton is nice this time of year."

But, after a brief interruption from a protester - who Sir Keir told, "we gave up on being a party of protest five years ago, we want to be a party of power" - he spent much of his time focusing on Labour's missions, namely:

• Kickstarting economic growth
• Making the country a clean energy "superpower"
• "Taking back our streets" by halving serious crime
• "Breaking down barriers to opportunity" with reforms to childcare and education
• Building an NHS "fit for the future".

The Labour leader said the pledges "remain at the core" of his 131-page manifesto, adding: "If they are to offer hope and clarity through these times, if they are to show, despite the hard road, the light of the certain destination, then we must keep to that road, no matter the short term ebbs and flows of politics, even in a campaign.

"That is what mission-driven government means. A chance to stop us bobbing along until the next crisis blows us off course and instead make sure we can keep going through the storm.

"Stability over chaos. Long-term over short-term."

Sir Keir reiterated his party's "first steps" for government - again a plan Labour announced before the election was even called, but one he is determined to stick to.

They include a pledge to deliver "economic stability", to cut NHS waiting lists with 40,000 more appointments a week, to crackdown on anti-social behaviour with more neighbourhood police and to recruit 6,500 new teachers.

These sit alongside promises of a new border security command to tackle small boat crossings in the Channel, and setting up the publicly-owned Great British Energy company.

"Labour's first steps for change are a down payment on our long-term plan for the country - an immediate repair job on the damage that has been caused under 14 years of Conservative chaos and decline," he said.

"We know we can't wave a magic wand and pretend that everything will be fixed overnight... [but] they are the first steps towards our long-term plan."

Read more:
What are the parties promising?
Our big guide to the general election
Who is Sir Keir Starmer?

Other policies in the manifesto include "tough new spending rules to allow businesses to plan", as well as a cap on corporation tax of 25% and promises of industry investment.

However, the party also commits to its "new deal for working people", including better childcare, better pay, and help for people to get back into employment, with Sir Keir saying Labour was both "pro-business and pro-worker".

They also promise to overhaul planning rules with a new 10-year infrastructure strategy for rail, road and to build 1.5 million homes, as well as reiterating plans to "shift power away from Westminster" by giving new responsibilities to regional mayors.

Sir Keir also doubled down on his pledge not to raise taxes on working people after much rumour around his plans for power.

"This is an issue of conviction," he said. "I don't believe it's fair to raise taxes on working people when they're already paying this month, particularly with a cost of living crisis.

"So let me spell it out. We will not raise income tax. We will not raise national insurance. We will not raise VAT. That is a manifesto commitment."

But the Conservative Party dubbed it a "tax trap manifesto... which contains only tax rises and no tax cuts".

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: "What's most important is not what's in Labour's manifesto, but it's what they have kept out of it.

"They are refusing to rule out taxing your job, your home, your pension, your car, your business and they think they can get away with it without anyone holding them to account.

"Be under no illusion, from cradle to grave you will pay more taxes under Labour."