Keir Starmer has said Labour will launch Great British Energy, a publicly owned energy company run on clean UK power, in its first year of government, saying the party will “fight the Tories on economic growth”.
In his speech at the Labour conference in Liverpool, Sir Keir said the largest onshore wind farm in Wales was owned by Sweden, China had a stake in the UK nuclear industry, and millions of people paid their bills to an energy company owned by France.
He said Great British Energy would be “a new company that takes advantage of the opportunities in clean British power and because it’s right for jobs, because it’s right for growth, because it’s right for energy independence from tyrants like [Vladimir] Putin”.
Labour said the new company, akin to EDF in France or Sweden’s Vattenfall, would provide additional capacity, alongside the private sector, but that its goal would be to establish the UK as a clean energy superpower and guarantee long-term energy security.
Sir Keir said earlier in his speech that the Conservatives had left the UK economy at the mercy of the aftershocks of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“I will never accept that the war is an excuse for how unprepared Britain was to tackle the fallout. The war didn’t ban onshore wind, the war didn’t scrap home insulation, the war didn’t stall British nuclear energy. The Tories did that.”
The Labour leader began his speech railing against the economic plan announced by prime minister Liz Truss and chancellor of the exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng last week, which cut taxes, including abolishing the top rate of tax. Sir Keir said “what we’ve seen in the past few days has no precedent” but said it was just one of a multitude of problems facing the country.
He said the Tories had “lost control of the British economy… not for you, not for working people, for tax cuts for the richest 1 per cent in our society. Don’t forget. Don’t forgive. The only way to stop this is with a Labour government.”
He said the dividing lines with the Conservatives had been clearly drawn: “Politics is about choices. And the choice – the political choice – is: who pays? Working people? Or the oil and gas companies making huge profits from higher prices?
“So our choice, the only choice, the Labour choice is to put those profits to work. This party is always on the side of working people in times of crisis.”
The Labour leader said it was his aim to “turn the UK into a growth superpower” through Labour’s green prosperity plan, which he said would create one million new jobs in towns and cities, bringing down energy bills, raising living standards and tackling the climate crisis.
He said Britain should be ambitious to be at the forefront of green technological revolution. “Some nation is going to lead the world in offshore wind. Why not this one? Some nation will win the race for electric vehicles. Why not us? Some nation will be the first to harness new hydrogen power. Why not Britain?”
To achieve this, he said, “will require a different way of working – the biggest partnership between government, business and communities this country has ever seen”.
In the speech, Sir Keir also pledged a National Health Service workforce plan to take on thousands more medical students, district nurses and health visitors, as well as new boosts for skills and apprenticeships. He said Labour would “set a new target – 70 per cent home ownership” with reform of buy-to-let and helping buyers on to the housing ladder with mortgage guarantees.
Sir Keir said Labour would get Britain “out of this endless cycle of crisis with a fresh start, a new set of priorities and a new way of governing”.
The Labour leader said the party would be ready for government but warned against complacency. “We need to be prepared, disciplined, focused … Because as in 1945, 1964 and 1997, this is a Labour moment.
“Say it loud and believe it. Britain will deal with the cost of living crisis. Britain will get its future back.” – Guardian