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Rachel Reeves avoids the Miliband trap

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves (Getty Images)

Rachel Reeves is out once on the campaign trail once again today as she gives her first major speech since Rishi Sunak called a July election. Addressing business leaders in the East Midlands, Reeves will vow to ‘lead the most pro-growth Treasury in our country’s history’. So far, no surprises – the shadow chancellor has made similar promises before. However, what Reeves and her team will be patting themselves on the back for pulling off is a letter in today’s Times.

Over one hundred business chiefs have signed a letter endorsing Labour’s economic plans and saying it is time for change. They include Iceland supermarket founder Malcolm Walker, the TV chef and restaurateur Tom Kerridge, former Heathrow Airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye, JD Sports chairman Andrew Higginson and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. It comes despite questions over Labour’s plans for workers’ rights. The letter is a coup for Labour, and follows a years-long business charm offensive which has included Reeves taking British executives for smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfasts, and aided by business outreach work by key Labour aides Katie Martin and Vidhya Alakeson.

It is particularly notable as it shows the party is learning from previous campaign problems. In 2015, 100 corporate leaders endorsed the Conservatives – warning a ‘change in course’ after the general election would threaten jobs and put the UK’s economic recovery at risk. It was a successful move by then then leader David Cameron to plant seeds of doubt over a Labour government led Ed Miliband. But this time, there are no plans for a letter from the Tories. While some Tory figures dismiss Labour’s letter as underpowered for where they are in the polls, Reeves has at least avoided her party falling into the Miliband trap.