Angela Rayner has cast further doubt on Labour’s plan to invest up to £28billion a year in the green economy if it wins power, calling the number “arbitrary”.

Despite her party promoting the number in the first place, the deputy leader said on a visit to Scotland: “It’s not about just throwing a figure out there willy-nilly.”

It follows Sir Keir Starmer and other senior Labour figures backing away from the plan and saying the investment, funded by borrowing, is contingent on the party’s “fiscal rules”.

Labour originally promised in 2021 to invest £28bn a year until 2030 in green projects if it came to power, but then slowly backtracked after the Tories seized on it to attack them.

Last year shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the figure would be a target to work towards in the second half of a first parliament.

While Sir Keir said last month it was possible a Labour government would “borrow less”.

Several media reports have claimed the Labour hierarchy wants to abandon the pledge. 

Ms Rayner was speaking on a visit to the Glenkinchie distillery in East Lothian alongside Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on Friday.

She denied there was confusion around Labour’s policy on green investment, saying the party would secure £3 of private investment for every £1 of public money it spent.

She said: “It’s not about just throwing a figure out there willy-nilly, and saying we’ll just put that in. It’s got to be part of applying to our fiscal rules.

“This is about identifying where that money will be spent, and when, how quickly we can get that off the ground in a sustainable way to secure the public money and secure that three times the amount of private investment.

“They’re the rules that we’re applying to that money. Therefore it’s arbitrary to say, well every year it will be £28 billion by immediately the first day.

“We don’t even know what the public finances are going to be like.”

Pressed on whether her party was moving away from the £28bn figure, she said: “No, we’re saying that we want to ramp up to £28bn. But we’re not just going to throw money out there.

“The fiscal rules that Rachel [Reeves] has applied to that money is that it has to be about investment in jobs of the future as part of our industrial strategy.”

Jobs in steel and home retrofitting would be among these jobs, she said.

In Scotland to promote Labour’s “new deal for working people” banning exploitative zero-hours contracts and fire-and-rehire practices, she repeated her rejection of SNP calls to devolve employment laws to Holyrood.

The SNP has also called for Ms Rayner to back lifting the two-child benefit cap.

She said Labour had a strategy to bring down child poverty, but it “cannot make unfunded spending commitments now”.

She said a parliamentary Bill on better employment law 100 days of a Labour government.

“I’ll be making sure, hopefully if we win the general election, as deputy prime minister that we stick to it. Because that is crucial for me, it’s been one of my big priorities,” she said.