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Good day. Keir Starmer has made his biggest and boldest political call as a leader by committing the Labor Party to building more houses, including in the politically popular green belt.

Elsewhere, carmaker Stellantis has warned that unless the UK’s Brexit deal is renegotiated, the country’s electric vehicle industry is under threat. What unites the two is that they both say something about what a Labor government would be like. Some reflections on both in today’s note.

Inside Politics is edited by Georgina Quach. Follow Stephen on Twitter @stephenkb and please send gossip, thoughts and comments to

homemade rewards

Keir Starmer’s announcement that a Labor government would build more in the green belt An act of genius or suicidal madness?

On the one hand, the green belt is an anti-growth policy: it limits the growth of UK cities and makes it more difficult to build houses. If the 1945-51 Labor government had not established the green belt policy (although the concept was first introduced for London in 1938), we would be talking about Reading and Slough as London boroughs, and Wolverhampton and Solihull as part of Birmingham.

On the other hand, the image that the word “green belt” conveys in the minds of most voters is that of idyllic green fields and beautiful scenery. Some Conservative MPs believe Starmer’s announcement will allow them to fight a highly localized campaign against a Labor party that wants to build on green space and retain its seats.

Who has the reason? Well, the polls on this make for pretty grim reading for the Labor Party, with voters of all stripes opposing the policy. this is for YouGov:

However, there is an important “but” here. Ultimately, what matters in politics is not just that you think, but how much do you care. here is the latest Ipsos Mori Emissions Index:

The stake here is obvious: that a big, sweeping housing policy wins more than it loses, because most voters don’t care, and those who do would agree with you. Let The Times use their leading column today to declare that Labor is the only party seriously committed to the housing crisis it will make Starmer’s inner circle think they are on the right track.

More importantly, Labor badly needs some sort of rhetorical shield against the idea that their policies mean more taxes and/or more debt, and their big, bold housing policy gives them just that. Labor can say that thanks to their commitment to build more housing and infrastructure, they will pick up the UK’s growth rate from its sluggish post-financial crisis level.

charging problems

revolutionary soldier Stellantis is warning that its Ellesmere port factory will close unless the UK renegotiates the terms of its agreement with the EU. His call was repeated by German car manufacturers lobbying to maintain duty free access to the UK.

As Helen Thomas explains in her column, Brexit is just one handicap the UK faces in developing its electric vehicle industry. At present, however, Stellantis’s Brexit difficulties are an interesting way to address the broader question of how the UK relates to the EU post-Brexit.

Peter Foster (premium subscribers can subscribe to his Brexit newsletter here) has a nice twist: Brexit is a divorce where you have to live across the street. And just as parents have to find ways to circumnavigate father’s nights, graduations and weddings, I am convinced that the UK will come to have a closer relationship with the EU over time simply because it is the easiest way to manage relations between the EU and the UK.

But I think the interesting question to ask is this: how would the story of Stellantis play out under a Labor government?

In that situation, there would be no one in Downing Street and no one prominent in the back seats who wanted to make the case that Brexit was going well. One of the reasons why I think the next Labor government will end up getting closer to the EU than anyone in that party thinks is that when crises like this arise, no one will matter to argue that the status quo is working. Both geography and necessity mean that the UK will end up moving closer to the EU over time, and that process will only accelerate.

now try this

I’m going to see the one by Igor Stravinsky the fire bird tonight. It’s a really beautiful piece of music and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the director does with it. Listen on YouTube or wherever you stream your music!

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