Sir Keir Starmer tonight officially dropped a pledge for £28 billion a year of green spending in a screeching U-turn.
The Labour leader confirmed the amount, central to the party’s Green Prosperity Plan, will be drastically scaled back with £23.7 billion now set to be spent over the course of the next parliament.
The Tories had seized on the original figure as a key attack line in the run-up to the next general election.
“Labour’s pledge – in their own words – has a £28 billion price tag and now they have admitted there is no plan to pay for it. This will mean higher taxes for working people to fill Labour’s black hole.
“That’s why the choice this year is to stick with our plan that’s working, or go back to square one with Labour which would put our country’s future at risk.”
Sir Keir sought to play down the U-turn earlier today as he said “everything on the table is staying on the table” when it comes to the Green Prosperity Plan.
The Labour leader insisted the party would still retain its mission to achieve clean power by 2030.
He said: “There is nothing we have said we will do that we are now saying we won’t do.
“I don’t want to have a row about the size of a cheque. I want to have a row about the outcomes.”
Labour will hope the move will end speculation about the scale of the plan, as well as neutralising Tory attacks.
Last year, Sir Keir’s party watered down the pledge by saying the spending target would be met in the second half of a first parliament rather than immediately.
Labour has also insisted it would be subject to its fiscal rules, which include getting debt falling as a percentage of GDP.
Confusion over the future of the policy had grown in recent weeks as some senior figures refused to refer to the £28 billion-a-year figure, while Sir Keir continued to do so as recently as Tuesday.
But Labour has come under criticism from green campaigners and trade unions over the move.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “If Labour keep getting scared off by Tory attacks, they will end up outsourcing their policy making to the Conservatives.”
Meanwhile, Greenpeace UK’s co-executive director Areeba Hami accused Sir Keir of having “caved like a house of cards in the wind”.