Sajid Javid will promise the Tories won’t “let Labour off the hook like last time”, as the general election battleground shifts to the economy.
Both Javid and his Labour shadow, John McDonnell, will give speeches on Thursday in the north-west of England as the campaign gathers pace.
McDonnell will announce a £100bn “social transformation fund” to be spent over the next five years to “repair the social fabric that the Tories have torn apart”, and confirm plans to shift “a powerful section of the Treasury” to the north.
In 2017, the Conservatives’ claims that Labour was relying on a “magic money tree” to fund its lavish spending pledges fell flat when Theresa May’s party failed to publish costings of its own policies. But Javid will signal the Tories’ determination to attack Labour on the economy relentlessly over the next five weeks – although unlike two years ago, the government is touting a series of multibillion pound spending pledges of its own.
He will also have to manage without the Treasury’s costings of Labour’s policy pledges, which he was blocked from publishing on Wednesday by the cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill.
“We won’t let Labour off the hook like last time. Look to the lessons of history: they’ll ruin our finances, raise your taxes and saddle the next generation with debt,” Javid will say. “Every single Labour government has left our country’s economy in a mess.”
The chancellor will also accuse McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn of being the “anti-vaxxers” of economic policy – comparing them to parents who refuse to have their children inoculated against illnesses. “Not only did they reject the treatment needed to heal our economy and get the deficit down by four-fifths, they now want to take every step imaginable to make the country sick and unhealthy again,” he will say.
But McDonnell will insist his social transformation fund, alongside a £250bn green transformation fund, to be spent over the next decade, is necessary to put the UK back on its feet, and prepare for the climate crisis.
“Spent over the first five years of our Labour government, the social transformation fund will begin the urgent task of repairing our social fabric that the Tories have torn apart. A hundred billion pounds to replace, upgrade and expand our schools, hospitals, care homes and council houses. To deal with the human emergency which the Tories have created, alongside the climate emergency,” he will say.
Labour has not yet spelled out how it will pay for its policy pledges, though it has insisted they will be fully funded – and that it will publish a separate costings document, as it did in 2017.
Labour’s approach to the wealthy has already featured heavily in the early days of the campaign. In an election rally in Telford, Shropshire, on Wednesday, eight miles from where he grew up, Corbyn said a Labour majority government would “chase down” those who attempt a “clever wheeze” with their tax.
His comments come after Boris Johnson said in the Telegraph that Corbyn would slap new taxes on people of all income levels – not just billionaires – and that the party “viscerally detests” those who have a profit motive.
Corbyn said: “My personal views on billionaires is that they’ve obviously got a great deal of money therefore they are in a very strong position to pay a lot more tax.
“So our tax plans will affect the richest 5% of our society. We will be chasing down tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax havens because at the end of the day if you’re doing some very clever wheeze, which somehow or other is avoiding your levels of taxation, you should be paying. Go further away [and] what happens then? You’ve got an underfunded school, hospital and public services as a whole.”
Corbyn and McDonnell will unveil Labour’s election bus at Liverpool Docks on Thursday. Emblazoned with the slogan, “It’s Time for Real Change”, it will tour marginal constituencies across the country.