Keir Starmer has announced that a Labour government will create Great British Energy – a new, publicly owned company that will generate renewable sources “to cut bills, create jobs and deliver energy independence”.
The role of GB Energy will be to provide additional capacity alongside the private sector, to establish the UK as a clean energy superpower and guarantee long term energy security, the Labour leader said.
Many European, Asian, and American countries have public generating companies, like EDF in France.
Delivering a keynote speech at the party conference in Liverpool, Sir Keir said the largest onshore wind farm in Wales is owned by Sweden, so “energy bills in Swansea are paying for schools and hospitals in Stockholm”.
He added: “The Chinese Communist Party has a stake in our nuclear industry. And five million people in Britain pay their bills to an energy company owned by France.
“Labour will set up Great British Energy within the first year of a Labour government.
“A new company that takes advantage of the opportunities in clean British power, because it’s right for jobs, because it’s right for growth, because it’s right for energy independence.”
A Labour party source told Sky News the hope is that GB Energy will “eventually be an EDF”.
The announcement builds on Labour’s commitment to make the UK a clean energy superpower by 2030 and create a National Wealth Fund to invest in British industry.
Sir Keir said Labour “will make sure that the public money we spend building-up British industry, spurs on private investment, stimulates growth… and the British people enjoy the returns”.
He added: “Labour won’t make the mistake the Tories made with North Sea oil and gas back in the 1980s, where they frittered away the wealth from our national resources.
“The road to net zero is no longer one of stern, austere, self-denial. It’s at the heart of modern, 21st century aspiration. Technology has turned everything on its head.
“Green and growth don’t just go together – they’re inseparable. The future wealth of this country is in our air, in our seas, and in our skies. Britain should harness that wealth and share it with all.
“British power to the British people.”
Conservatives ‘have ripped out the foundations of Britain’
Sir Keir accused the Tories of chocking the aspirations of working people with their trickle-down economics approach, saying they crashed the pound and lost control of the economy “to give tax cuts to the rich”.
He said the Conservatives have harmed the UK over the last 12 years.
“They used to lecture us about fixing the roof when the sun was shining.
“But take a look around Britain, they haven’t just failed to fix the roof, they’ve ripped out the foundations, smashed through the windows and now they’ve blown the doors off for good measure,” he said.
Sir Keir said the problems don’t stop with the economy, saying there is “raw sewage in our rivers” and “backlogs everywhere”.
He went onto paint a picture of what the UK would look like under a Labour government, saying the cost of living crisis will be over, “clouds of anxiety have lifted”, services are where they are needed and the economy is stable while the NHS is “back in good health”.
Referencing a woman he met in Grimsby, he said people in the UK are surviving, not living, but under a Labour government, they would be “thriving not surviving”.
‘Party of homeownership’
In another policy announcement, Sir Keir said Labour wants to increase home ownership and will set a target of 70%, offering a new mortgage guarantee for first-time buyers to help more people get onto the housing ladder.
He also promised to make Brexit “work” – saying that is something voters won’t get from the Tories or SNP.
His condemnation of the SNP was well-received by the audience.
Sir Keir said Scotland’s success in the UK “is met with gritted teeth”.
“We can’t work with them, we won’t work with them, no deal under any circumstances,” he said.
He pledged to make a “fairer greener more dynamic Scotland” – in a “Labour Britain”.
‘Party of the centre ground’
Sir Keir finished his speech by echoing former leader and prime minister Tony Blair.
He said Labour is “the party of the centre ground – once again the political wing of the British people”.
He said: “Britain will get its future back, a country where aspiration is rewarded, where working people succeed.
“A force for good in the world, a clean energy superpower, a fairer, greener, more dynamic nation.
“This is my commitment to you. The national mission of the next Labour government.”
Sir Keir won no fewer than 10 standing ovations during his confident and assured 50-minute speech.
Speaking afterwards, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner told Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby that the speech showed how passionate he is, after suggestions from some quarters that he is boring and perhaps lacking in personality.
Sir Keir ‘exactly what we need’
The buoyant frontbencher was a supporter of former leader Jeremy Corbyn and is generally seen as more to the left of the party than Sir Keir – but she was insistent Labour is now the party of the centre ground and the party that can win an election.
“I think he’s exactly what we need in this country at the moment, someone who’s got very clear ideas, very good ethics,” she said.
And in a message to the Tory government, she added: “Do not completely trash our country before we take it over.”
Trade unions also praised the speech, with Frances O’Grady of the TUC calling it “inspirational” and UNSION saying a Labour government “can’t come soon enough”.
The speech was less well received by the SNP, who accused Labour of “turning into the Tories”.
And the Adam Smith Institute, a free market think tank said, it is not confident in Sir Keir’s plan for a national green energy company, saying previous attempts at state-owned energy “resulted in massive subsidies and taxpayer-funded bailout.”
The Conservatives also hit back at Sir Keir’s attack, saying there was nothing new in the speech “no matter how much he tries to emulate Tony Blair”.
“It is the Conservatives that are taking the bold action needed to get Britain moving and deliver more jobs and higher wages,” a spokesperson for the party said.
Rishi Sunak to pitch himself as prime minister to ‘fundamentally change the country’
Rishi Sunak will try to convince the public he is the person to “fundamentally change the country” and fix Westminster’s “broken system” – despite the fact his party has been in government for 13 years.
In his speech to the Tory Party conference, the prime minister will present himself as a reformer who is prepared to take difficult decisions, unlike opponents, who take “the easy decision, not the right one”.
Mr Sunak will tell the conference hall that politics “doesn’t work the way it should” and that his Labour opponent, Sir Keir Starmer, is “betting on voters’ apathy.”
The speech will round off what has been a chaotic four days at the party’s annual conference in Manchester – an event that has been overshadowed by the announcement that the northern leg of HS2 will not go ahead as originally envisioned.
Instead, services will run between Birmingham and Manchester but they will not be high speed and they will use the existing West Coast Mainline track.
The development prompted Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to accuse the government of treating people in the north as “second-class citizens”.
He warned the government: “To pull that plug here in Manchester would show complete contempt to the city region and to the north of England as a whole.”
The Tory mayor for the West Midlands, Andy Street, also warned it would be “an incredible political gaffe” allowing opponents to accuse Mr Sunak of having decided to “shaft the north”.
In his speech, Mr Sunak will rail against “30 years of a political system which incentivises the easy decision, not the right one – 30 years of vested interests standing in the way of change”.
He will reflect on his first year in Number 10 and acknowledge a “feeling that Westminster is a broken system”.
“It isn’t anger, it is an exhaustion with politics,” he will say.
“In particular, politicians saying things, and then nothing ever changing.
“And you know what? People are right. Politics doesn’t work the way it should.”
Poll shows most voters think Sunak is doing a bad job
A new poll of 1,000 people from Ipsos UK suggests most voters think Rishi Sunak is doing a bad job when it comes to hitting his goals.
On inflation, 57% said Mr Sunak was doing a bad job, up from 55% in May.
Some 54% said he was doing a bad job on growing the economy, up from 50% in May.
And 54% of people said he was doing a bad job on reducing national debt – up from 49%.
On cutting NHS waiting lists, dissatisfaction sits at 71%, compared to 62% in May.
On ‘stopping the boats’, two-thirds of people said he was doing a bad job.
The poll was carried out just before the Conservative party conference.
And he will say: “Politicians spent more time campaigning for change than actually delivering it.
“Our mission is to fundamentally change our country.”
As well as the HS2 announcement, Mr Sunak has also been undermined by his predecessor Liz Truss, who drew big conference crowds as she demanded immediate tax cuts to “make Britain grow again”.
Mr Sunak has instead compared himself to the late Baroness Thatcher, who tackled inflation before cutting taxes during her premiership between 1979 and 1990.
While Mr Sunak has repeatedly sought to dodge questions over HS2, he did say on Tuesday that the costs of the project had gone “far beyond” what had been predicted, and the sums involved were “enormous”.
The HS2 scheme was given a budget of £55.7bn in 2015 but costs have ballooned, with an estimate of up to £98bn – in 2019 prices – in 2020.
HS2 won’t be high speed between Manchester and Birmingham
HS2 will start at Euston rather than Old Oak Common – but between Birmingham and Manchester it will not be high speed, Sky News understands.
The rail line will stop in Manchester, but from Birmingham it will switch to use existing West Coast Mainline track.
It will therefore not be high speed after Birmingham – effectively confirming days of speculation that the northern leg of the controversial project has been shelved.
Alongside the doubt over Manchester, there have also been question marks over Euston station and whether the line would terminate there as originally planned.
There had been rumours that it could stop at Old Oak Common instead, but Sky News understands the rail line will stop at Euston in a move that could be designed to placate critics.
The development, broken on the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge programme, follows repeated attempts by Rishi Sunak and other members of the Cabinet to bat away questions regarding the future of the northern leg of the project.
The government initially tried to downplay the original reports, saying they were “incorrect” and that no “final decisions” had been made regarding the northern leg, known as phase two.
But despite their attempts, questions over HS2 have dominated Mr Sunak’s first party conference as leader and prime minister.
Speaking at event near the conference venue, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham immediately hit out at the plans, saying: “If media reports are to be believed tonight, HS2 will leave central London, it will go to the Home Counties and the Chilterns underground, and it will get to Birmingham and then it will go onto traditional tracks.”
He said 40 businesses had written to prime minister tonight to urge him not to pull the plug.
“If you think about that for a moment, you know that will be a permanent statement for people in the north of England that they are second class citizens when it comes to transport infrastructure,” he added.
“It beggars belief in some ways that they are going to do this, they are going to pull the plug on that infrastructure that would pave the way for that new east-west line across the north, promised in not one, not two, but three Conservative manifestos.
“But to pull that plug here in Manchester would show complete contempt to the city region and to the north of England as a whole.”
Mr Burnham told the audience: “We say to them tonight: it isn’t too late from our point of view, you could invite us in.
“Do not pull the plug on this city while you are in this city.
“If you do do those things, people here will never forget.”
The first indications that the leg to Manchester could be scrapped came after it was reported last month ministers were considering shelving the northern phase because of concerns about spiralling costs and severe delays.
According to The Independent, a cost estimate revealed that the government has already spent £2.3bn on stage two of the railway from Birmingham to Manchester, but that ditching the northern phase could save up to £34bn.
The reports immediately drew criticism from across the political divide, including from former Conservative prime ministers Boris Johnson and Theresa May.
Speaking on the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge, Science and Technology Secretary Michell Donelan said the latest reports were “still speculation”.
“I know, having worked around the cabinet table with the prime minister, that he is somebody who is very thorough when it comes to the detail,” she said.
“So I’m going to give him the time and wait and see what he says tomorrow.”
Asked why the government was not confirming what is happening on HS2, Ms Donelan said ministers wanted to “get it right” on the project.
“If I was the prime minister, I’d be doing exactly what he’s doing,” she said.
VAR audio of Liverpool’s wrongly disallowed goal in Spurs defeat released
The full transcript from the VAR audio
VAR: Possible offside, Diaz.
Assistant referee 2: Give it.
Assistant referee 1: Coming back for the offside, mate.
VAR: Just checking the offside. Delay, delay. Give the kick point, let’s go. Kick point please?
Referee: Yeah, no worries mate.
Replay operator: So, here we are. Just get a tight angle.
VAR: Yeah, give me 2D line ready after this one for frame two after that.
Replay operator: So frame two there?
VAR: That’s fine. Perfect, yeah. 2D line on the left boot.
Replay operator: Let me just switch angles.
VAR: Romero, I think it is?
Replay operator: I think it might be this angle better? Happy with this angle?
Replay operator: 2D line on the boot?
VAR: 2D line on the boot.
Replay operator: Yeah, okay. So 2D line on the boot.
VAR: And stop. Check complete, check complete. That’s fine, perfect.
Assistant referee 1: Playing.
Referee: Cheers mate.
VAR: Thank you mate.
Referee: Well done boys, good process.
Replay operator: Wait, wait, wait, wait. The on-field decision was offside. Are you happy with this?
Assistant VAR: Yeah.
Replay operator: Are you happy with this?
Assistant VAR: Offside, goal, yeah. That’s wrong that, Daz.
Replay operator: On-field decision was offside. Are you happy with this image? Yeah, it’s onside. The image that we gave them is onside.
Assistant VAR: He’s played him, he’s gone offside.
VAR: Oh *expletive*
Replay operator: Delay, delay. Oli’s (PGMOL Hub Ops) saying to delay, Oli’s saying to delay.
Replay operator: Oli’s calling in to say delay the game. The decision is onside.
VAR: Can’t do anything.
Replay operator: Oli’s saying to delay, Oli’s saying to delay.
Fourth official: Yeah?
Replay operator: Delay the game, to delay the game? Stop the game.
VAR: They’ve restarted the game. Can’t do anything, can’t do anything.
Assistant VAR: Yeah, they’ve restarted. Yeah.
VAR: I can’t do anything. I can’t do anything. *expletive*
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