Starmer tells nationalists there will be ‘no deal’
Sir Keir Starmer today delivered a firm message to Scottish independence campaigners that there will be ‘no deal’ with a Labour government in Westminster.
The Labour leader told his party’s conference in Edinburgh that he would aim to be Prime Minister “for the UK, not just Prime Minister of the UK”.
In an uncompromising rejection of the Scottish National Party’s call to work with Labour, he said: “Whatever happens in the coming months my message is the same: no deal under any circumstances.
“The phony offers of support can end now. The blame game can end now. The unspoken political bond between the SNP and the Tories, the shared investment in division, that ends now.
“The hope Scotland needs is coming. The change Scotland needs is coming. A Labour Government is coming.”
His comments come on the back of new polling showing Labour narrowing the gap on the SNP which is seeking a new leader. A YouGov survey among Scottish voters just before Nicola Sturgeon resigned as First Minister and SNP leader found that 29% of the electorate would vote SNP with Labour a close second on 27% and the Conservatives trailing on 12%.
In his second address to Scottish Labour’s conference as UK Leader, Sir Keir asked Scottish voters to “take another look at Labour” in what he called a “new era for Scotland and Britain”.
On Labour’s united determination to earn every vote on the merits of its offer, he said: “We won’t change any hearts or minds by sitting back and watching a battle for power within the SNP. We have to go out there and earn it. Prove that Labour can be the change that Scotland needs.
“It’s not about change at the top of other parties, it’s about the changes we’ve made – from top to bottom – to our own, and the change we can now offer the Scottish people.
“That’s the value of the steps we’ve already taken, together. Change with a purpose, to make our Labour Party fit to serve our country. That’s why we had to show our support for NATO is non-negotiable; that we understand the importance of sound money; and that we will rip anti-Semitism out by its roots.
“Country first, party second. The job now is to set out what it means for Scotland, and Britain.”
Claiming that the case for the union rests on the solidarity of working people, he called for an end to divislon, politically and economically.
“Working people are tired of an economy that only works for those at the top.,” he said.
“They want public services that can provide security and a springboard for opportunity. They despair of a broken politics, which can’t provide their community with the tools to control its destiny.
“This is the change Scotland needs, that Britain needs, and Labour will rise to the moment and provide it.”
Sir Keir took head-on the reasons he believes people look to independence as a “way out of Tory Britain.”
Addressing those who had given up on Labour, he said: “I don’t believe in our union just because of our history, I believe in it because of our future. Look at the great challenges we face, the cost-of-living crisis, climate change, standing up to Putin, they’re common across our nations.
“Sticking up a border doesn’t solve any of them.
“But we must accept that many Scots look at Tory Britain and conclude the way out is the way forward.
“I want to address those who had given up on Labour directly. And, yes, those who had given up on Britain. I know the people of Scotland want change and hope. Not a showy, grandiose hope.
“What I mean is the basic, ordinary hope, we used to take for granted. The sort of hope you can build your future around. That aspirations are made of. That was shared by working people across our four nations in good times and bad. The hope that people in Scotland are once again looking to see if Labour can offer.”
He accused the SNP of ‘inertia’ while outlining how Labour’s ambitious Green Prosperity Plan will ‘create the jobs, the industries, the opportunities of the future’ for Scotland.
He said: “Our Green Prosperity Plan is all about turning the UK into a green growth superpower. Investing in wind, solar, nuclear, hydrogen, green steel and carbon capture, insulation for 19 million homes, and GB Energy, a new company that will take advantage of the opportunities in clean British power, and turn them into good, secure, well-paid jobs.
“Let’s be crystal clear about the benefits which flow to the Scottish people from this plan. Let’s show how Scottish businesses and families will get cheaper bills – forever. How Scotland can get real energy independence from tyrants like Putin – forever. How we can give every community – from highlands to lowlands, Islands to the central belt – a fair shot at the jobs and prosperity of the future.
“Labour not only see the battles ahead – we’ll run towards them.”
He repeated Labour’s plan for devolving more power and wealth across the UK.
“Britain has an economy that hoards potential and a politics which hoards power, and these two problems feed off each other.
“Only Labour can fix this. Only Labour can unlock the pride and purpose of all our communities. We don’t just need more devolution in Scotland, we need it right across the UK.
“The decisions which create wealth in our communities should be taken by people with skin in the game. A huge power shift out of Westminster can transform our economy, our politics and our democracy. It’s the change Scotland and Britain needs.”
The SNP’s Depute Westminster leader, Mhairi Black MP said: “Under Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar Labour have become a pro-Brexit party that are indistinguishable from the Tories on a whole range of issues.
“Like the Tories, they are intent on blocking the cast-iron democratic mandate for an independence referendum.
“And just like the Conservatives they are fully signed up to the unfolding catastrophe of Brexit and the huge damage it is inflicting on Scotland.”