Rachel Reeves

In her first major speech of the election campaign, the shadow chancellor described Labour as “the natural partner of business”, as more retail leaders backed the party.

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Speaking at the Rolls-Royce factory in Derby today, Rachel Reeves promised that a Labour government would turn around the UK economy with plans “underpinned by robust fiscal rules”.

She also reiterated the party’s plans to recruit thousands of additional teachers and introduce 40,000 NHS appointments every week. Reeves added that every Labour policy “will be fully funded and fully costed – no ifs, no and’s, no buts”.

Labour has published plans to raise funds by ending VAT exemption for private schools and a “proper windfall tax” on profits made by oil and gas companies.

Reeves’ speech came on the same day as a letter published in The Times where 120 founders, chief executives and former business leaders said Labour “wants to work with business” on long-term growth.

Among the signatories were JD Sports and British Retail Consortium chair Andy Higginson and Iceland founder Sir Malcolm Walker – who signed a similar letter in support of the Conservatives during the 2015 election campaign.

Their names appear alongside the former chief executives of Aston Martin and Heathrow Airport, and the former chairs and vice-chairs of the Financial Conduct Authority and JP Morgan.

The letter said: “We, as leaders and investors in British business, believe it is time for a change. For too long, our economy has been beset by instability, stagnation and a lack of long-term focus.

“The UK has the potential to be one of the strongest economies in the world. A lack of political stability and the absence of a consistent economic strategy have held it back. The country has been denied the skills and infrastructure it needs to flourish.

“Labour has shown it has changed and wants to work with business to achieve the UK’s full economic potential. We should now give it the chance to change the country and lead Britain into the future. We are in urgent need of a new outlook to break free from the stagnation of the past decade and we hope by taking this public stand we might persuade others of that need too.”

What does the general election mean for retail? Catch up on the latest policy announcements and we give a platform to retailers to have their say ahead of the vote on July 4 on our dedicated election page.