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.
Man dies after being crushed by pop-up telescopic urinal in London’s West End
A maintenance worker in central London has died after being crushed by a hydraulic telescopic urinal – one that’s kept underground during the day and kept out overnight.
Emergency services were called to Cambridge Circus in the West End just after 1pm on Friday to reports of a “seriously injured” man.
The incident took place outside the Palace Theatre, home to Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.
Firefighters, ambulance crews and an air ambulance were deployed at 1.05pm and police were called five minutes later.
Emergency services tried to save the man, who has not been named, but he died at the scene.
In a statement on Twitter, Metropolitan Police said: “We’re sorry to have to update that, despite the efforts of emergency services, the man who was critically injured in Cambridge Circus was pronounced dead at the scene.
“His next of kin have been informed. Cordons remain in place at the location.
“Police were called at around 1.10pm on Friday January 27, to a seriously injured man at Cambridge Circus, W1.
“The man is thought to have sustained crush injuries while working on a telescopic urinal at the location.”
A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called today at 1.05pm to reports of an incident on Shaftesbury Avenue, Charing Cross.
“We sent a number of resources to the scene, including an ambulance crew, members of our hazardous area response team, members of our tactical response unit and a medic in a fast response car.
“We also dispatched London’s Air Ambulance.”
Roads in the area have been closed.
The telescopic or hydraulic urinal is a pop-up urinal that comes out of the ground at night and is stored underground during the day.
Wynter Andrews: Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust fined £800,000 over baby’s death 23 minutes after birth
An NHS trust has been fined £800,000 for a “catalogue of failings and errors” that led to the death of a baby 23 minutes after she was born.
Wynter Andrews died in the arms of her parents, Sarah and Gary Andrews, on 15 September 2019 due to a lack of oxygen to the brain, shortly after an emergency Caesarean section at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust had admitted two counts of failing to provide safe care and treatment resulting in harm and loss at a court hearing on Wednesday.
Sentencing at the city’s magistrates’ court on Friday, district judge Grace Leong said: “The catalogue of failings and errors exposed Mrs Andrews and her baby to a significant risk of harm which was avoidable, and such errors ultimately resulted in the death of Wynter and post-traumatic stress for Mrs Andrews and Mr Andrews.
“My assessment is that the level of culpability is high, where offences on Wynter and Mrs Andrews are concerned.
“There were systems in place, but there were so many procedures and practices where guidance was not followed or adhered to or implemented.”
District judge Leong added the “systematic failures” were “more than sufficient” to cause harm to Wynter and her mother.
She said the total fine, combining the sums for offences against both Wynter and Mrs Andrews, would have been £1.2m, but this was reduced to £800,000 due to the trust’s early guilty pleas.
The judge also said she was “acutely aware” any fine would have to be paid out of public funds which would otherwise be spent on patient care.
The trust, which will pay prosecution costs of £13,668.65 and a victim surcharge of £181, has asked for two years to pay the fine.
Speaking outside the court, Mrs Andrews said she hoped the significant fine “sends a clear message to trust managers that they must hold patient safety in the highest regard”.
She added: “Sadly, we are not the only family harmed the trust’s failings.
“We feel that this sentence isn’t just for Wynter, but it’s for all the other babies that have gone before and after her.”
Mrs Andrews has previously said she was “failed in the most cruel way” by the trust and its management had been “repeatedly warned by staff about safety at the unit” but “failed to act”.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which inspects health services in England, said last July that it would prosecute the trust.
The maternity unit at the QMC was rated as inadequate by the CQC, with the hospital overall rated as requiring improvement, when it was inspected last March.
Mrs Andrews was admitted to hospital on 14 September 2019, her planned due date, after an “uncomplicated” pregnancy.
An induced labour planned for 7 September was cancelled on her request, but an investigation later found this was signed off by a midwife without consulting an obstetrician, and limited reasoning was given for the decision in medical notes.
Once Mrs Andrews was in labour, Wynter’s heartbeat was described as “suspicious” by doctors, who decided to deliver her via caesarean section.
After complications during the surgery, she was delivered in a “poor” condition and died 23 minutes and 30 seconds later despite “extensive efforts” to resuscitate her.
Jeremy Hunt confirms HS2 will reach central London after reports it might stop in suburbs
HS2 will end at Euston after reports the high speed line could stop before reaching central London, the chancellor has confirmed.
Jeremy Hunt said he did not see “any conceivable circumstance” the original plan would not be followed and that he was “incredibly proud” of the work going ahead.
The end-point of the line came into question after a report in the Sun, claiming the last leg of HS2 could be scrapped and replaced with a new hub at Old Oak Common in the suburbs of west London.
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This would leave passengers having to finish their journey into the centre of the capital on the new Elizabeth underground line.
The government did not deny the reports or that a two to five-year delay to the entire project – currently due to be completed between 2029 and 2033 – was being considered due to record high inflation impacting costs.
However, when asked if he and the government were committed to the line ending in Euston as planned, Mr Hunt said: “Yes we are.”
The chancellor added: “I don’t see any conceivable circumstance in which that would not end up at Euston and indeed I prioritised HS2 in the autumn statement.
“We have not got a good record in this country of delivering complex, expensive infrastructure quickly but I’m incredibly proud that for the first time in this last decade under a Conservative government we have shovels in the ground, we are building HS2 and we are going to make it happen.”
Planning your route into London
Making the the final southern destination for HS2 a station at Old Oak Common – which is yet to be built – could well have saved the government billions.
But what would the impact have been on passengers?
Let’s say Euston is your final destination.
You would get off at the new station, which will be fairly close to Hammersmith in west London, and take the Elizabeth Line to Tottenham Court Road – a journey of around 15 minutes.
From there, you could take the Northern Line two stops to Euston.
Or, if you’re feeling energetic, it would be a 20-minute walk.
The HS2 project has been dogged by criticism over its financial and environmental impact.
In October 2021, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove suggested capital investment for the line would be reviewed.
But after being installed at Number 11, Mr Hunt subsequently backed the project.
The target cost of Phase 1 between London and Birmingham was £40.3bn at 2019 prices, despite an overall budget of £55.7bn being set just four years earlier.
Penny Gaines from campaign group Stop HS2 said it is “not at all surprising” that costs were spiralling out of control.
“These reports just show that there are so many problems with HS2,” she added. “It’s being delayed further and further so the cost is going up, it should be cancelled in its entirety as soon as possible.”
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