Rachel Reeves denies pensions tax hit in works after Keir Starmer confusion over 'working people'

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves sought to clarify remarks by Sir Keir Starmer over who are ‘working people’ (PA Wire)
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves sought to clarify remarks by Sir Keir Starmer over who are ‘working people’ (PA Wire)

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves denied on Wednesday that she plans to hit pensioners, after Sir Keir Starmer appeared to omit savers from his definition of “working people” who will be shielded from Labour tax hikes.

Ms Reeves also welcomed new data showing that inflation has fallen back to the Bank of England’s target of 2.0% - but insisted there was little to celebrate for millions still suffering from an “acute” cost-of-living crisis.

The shadow chancellor gave a round of interviews a day after the Labour leader, during an LBC phone-in, was grilled about what he and Ms Reeves mean when they say they will not raise taxes for “working people”.

Sir Keir said: “The person I have in my mind when I say working people is people who earn their living, rely on our services, and don’t really have the ability to write a cheque when they get into trouble.”

Ms Reeves denied that his remark had opened the way for a raid on pensioners and others who rely on savings for their income.

“No, working people are people who get their income from going out to work everyday, and also pensioners that have worked all their lives and are now in retirement, drawing down on their pensions,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Many working people do have savings. But the truth is, during the cost-of-living crisis, loads of working people have had to run down those savings, and have very little left, very little to draw upon.”

Ms Reeves stressed that Labour’s planned tax hikes would instead target non-domiciled foreigners, equity fund bosses, energy firms and private school fees, as she again ruled out increases in income tax, National Insurance or VAT for the duration of the next parliament.

The shadow frontbencher meanwhile welcomed the suspension of a Labour candidate in Scotland after he wrote pro-Russia posts that appeared to play down the country’s role in the deadly Salisbury poisonings of 2018.

Andy Brown was disowned by the party in the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency following reports he shared an article from Russian state media outlet RT which claimed the “toxin” used in the poisonings was “never produced in Russia, but was in service in the US, UK, and other Nato states”.

Ms Reeves told Sky News: “I hadn’t heard of this guy until this morning and I’m very, very pleased that I will hopefully not have to hear of him again because he’s been suspended as a Labour candidate.

“As soon as these postings came to light, we got rid of him.”

She added: “People who don’t share our values in the changed Labour Party are kicked out of the Labour Party, while the Conservative Party continues to harbour people like Liz Truss, who has caused so much damage to the lives of working people up and down the country.”

According to the Press and Journal, Mr Brown also shared a quote from a Jewish historian which suggested that “right-wing Jews in the Labour Party and outside” were opposed to Jeremy Corbyn because he was a “consistent supporter of Palestinian rights”.

The candidate Brown will still appear on the ballot paper on July 4 as the deadline for nominations has passed, but he will not receive any official backing from Labour following his suspension.