Keir Starmer pledges state-owned green energy company within a year of Labour government
Labour will create a state-owned green energy company if it wins the next election, Sir Keir Starmer has vowed.
In a keynote speech at the party's autumn conference in Liverpool, the Labour leader pledged to establish "Great British Energy" within a year of taking office, providing clean energy to help meet net zero climate goals and aid the economy.
Starmer said the plan "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 from tyrants like [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin".
"None of this will be easy – it won't be like flicking a switch," he went on. "It will mean tough battles on issues like planning and regulation.
"But when the Tories nay-say and carp, remember this – the road to net zero is no longer one of stern, austere self-denial, it's at the heart of modern, 21st century aspiration."
The move comes after the SNP shelved plans to create a Scottish state-owned power player, saying this was in response to the pandemic and efforts to create a public energy agency to "coordinate and accelerate" the delivery of efficiency work. Last year, Michael Matheson said "very serious systemic problems in the UK energy network and the UK energy system that the UK Government have failed to address" were barriers to progress.
Starmer said too many overseas operations had been allowed to dominate the energy market in the UK, telling delegates: "The Chinese Communist Party has a stake in our nuclear industry, and five million people pay their bills to an energy company owned in France."
And he accused the Conservative government of having "lost control of the economy" after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng presented a mini-Budget and the pound crashed to a record low against the US dollar.
Labour is now "the party of the centre ground" and "the political wing of the British people", Starmer said, harking back to statements made by his predecessor Tony Blair in the 1990s.
Recounting the successes of the party's past, Starmer said: "In 1945, out of the rubble of the Second World War, we built a land fit for heroes. In 1964, we harnessed the white heat of technology to pay our way in a modern economy. And in 1997, we modernised a country held back by crumbling public services and outdated institutions. It's time to write a new chapter of Labour Party history about how we built a fairer, greener, more dynamic Britain by tackling the climate emergency head-on and used it to create the jobs, the industries, the opportunities of the future."