Starmer accuses Sunak of 'Jeremy Corbyn-style' manifesto

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused the Conservatives of producing a “Jeremy Corbyn style manifesto".

Referencing the former leader of his own party, Sir Keir said the Tories had drawn up a document that would "load everything into the wheelbarrow" without explaining how to pay for it.

Sir Keir served in Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet but defended his criticism saying: "If you lose that badly, you don't look at the electorate... you look at your party and say 'You need to change'."

The Labour leader's comments came ahead of Rishi Sunak launching his manifesto at the Silverstone race track in Northamptonshire.

Mr Sunak said his manifesto showed that "our economy has truly turned a corner" and that his party's policies would ensure "more British success stories".

He said the measures were "fully funded and would result in lower borrowing in 2029-30".

“Do not forget that Keir Starmer is asking you to hand him a blank cheque when he hasn’t said what he’ll buy with it and how much it is going to cost you," he added.

General election banner

Mr Sunak's pledges include a new Help to Buy scheme to support first time buyers to purchase a home and a 2p cut in employee National Insurance.

Asked if he would match the Conservatives' National Insurance tax cut, Sir Keir said the "money's not there".

He accused the Conservatives of using a promise to tackle tax avoidance to fund "at least four different propositions" adding: "That's why I say it's a Jeremy Corbyn-style manifesto."

Mr Corbyn's manifesto for the 2019 general election was a wide-ranging and ambitious proposal, including promises of free broadband for all and nationalisation of energy firms and the water industry.

At the time Sir Keir, who was then the shadow Brexit secretary, praised the manifesto saying it offered "real change" and "an ambition to meet the needs" of the country.

When he ran for the Labour leadership in 2020, he also said he would not "trash" the record of Mr Corbyn.

Asked on Tuesday why he was now attacking a manifesto he previously supported, Sir Keir said it was Labour's defeat in the 2019 election that persuaded him to "change" the party.

Mr Corbyn has previously said Sir Keir should not "diss the past or diss his involvement in it".

Responding to Sir Keir's criticism of Mr Corbyn, the left-wing campaign group Momentum said: "Labour's 2019 manifesto was fully costed - Keir should know, he stood on it as a member of the shadow cabinet.

"How about stopping attacking your own side during an election?"

As well as comparing Mr Sunak to Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Keir also accused the prime minister of pursuing a similar approach to his predecessor Liz Truss.

He warned that “unfunded” commitments could crash the economy and that “if you lose control of the economy it’s working people who pay the price.”

Reacting to the manifesto, Paul Johnson, head of the Institute for Fiscal Studies public spending think tank, said he had a "degree of scepticism" over the "uncertain, unspecific and apparently victimless savings" that would pay for tax cuts.

He also said the party "remained silent" on where public spending cuts, implied by the Budget in March, would fall.

Earlier this year, the think tank accused both Labour and the Conservatives of a "conspiracy of silence" over the spending cuts or tax rises that would need to be made following the next election.

The SNP's Drew Hendry said: “The Tories really should have spared themselves the bother of producing a manifesto plan because we all know the public plan is to boot them out of office in a matter of weeks.

"People deserve to know whether the Labour Party will simply carry on where the Tories left off when it comes to cuts to our public services."

The Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said the Conservative manifesto was not "worth the paper it's printed on".

"No one will believe anything they're promising today," she said.

Reform UK chair Richard Tice described the manifesto as a "car crash" and said "no one is listening".

The Greens have accused the other parties of "silence" on climate issues. Co-leader Carla Denyer said her party were "clear that investing in climate change is a priority".