SIR Keir Starmer was joined by Taunton's Deborah Meaden as he said he wants to level the playing field for small businesses by overhauling the business rates system.

The Labour leader said: “We want to replace them with a system that works better, because at the moment there’s not a level playing field between businesses that are online and those that are sort of bricks and mortar.

“It’s been a problem for a long time, the government hasn’t fixed it and small businesses have all gone through a really hard time in recent years.

“So, that’s our plan, we want small businesses to thrive because they are the backbone of our economy and they need that stability in our economy, and they need to know that their energy bills are actually going to be lower and stable.”

Sir Keir was joined by Dragons Den star Deborah Meaden at 3 Locks Brewery in Camden, where she voiced her support for the party’s Great British Energy plans.

She told PA news agency: “I think GB Energy is absolutely brilliant, I think it does everything that I care about.

“Businesses don’t like being out of control of costs and energy is one of those costs that simply fluctuates beyond your control.”

Starmer also explained how Labour's GB Energy plan is 'very popular' with small businesses.

 “Everybody must remember for a small business you put your money in, you put yourself in, you put your whole self in, and they take risks," the Labour leader said.

“They’ve had a really hard time with this Government in recent years, so our plan is to support small businesses and give them that chance that they need.

“That does involve replacing rates, because business rates put a real drag on businesses.

"It also involves stabilising the economy, of course, and Great British Energy, because what’s come up here, comes up with all small businesses, energy is too expensive.

“What you can’t have if you run a small business is sort of costs that you can’t control, so Great British Energy, a publicly-owned company for renewables, is very, very popular with small businesses.”

Additional reporting by PA News Agency.