Keir Starmer accuses Rishi Sunak of 'sticking plaster politics' and vows Labour will become party of ‘Take Back Control’

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Rishi Sunak of “sticking plaster politics” and derided the Prime Minister’s five-point plan as “weak” with “low ambition”.

The Labour leader claimed the Conservatives had no vision for how to change Britain, instead offering more of the same “promises and platitudes”.

Speaking in Stratford, Sir Keir promised Labour would become the party of “take back control” – a phrase synonymous with the Brexit campaign – as he pledged to turn it from a “slogan to a solution” that would deliver a new politics for Britain.

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He said: “We will embrace the ‘take back control’ message, but we’ll turn it from a slogan to a solution, from a catchphrase into change. We will spread control out of Westminster,” he said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Rishi Sunak of lacking ambition and ideas.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Rishi Sunak of lacking ambition and ideas.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Rishi Sunak of lacking ambition and ideas.

“Devolve new powers over employment support, transport, energy, climate change, housing, culture, childcare provision and how councils run their finances. And we’ll give communities a new right to request powers which go beyond this.

“All this will be in a new Take Back Control Bill – a centrepiece of our first King’s speech. A Bill that will deliver on the demand for a new Britain, a new approach to politics and democracy, a new approach to growth and our economy.”

Sir Keir also accused the Prime Minister of being in denial about the problems facing the country.

He said: “More promises, more platitudes. No ambition to take us forward, no sense of what the country needs. Thirteen years of nothing but sticking plaster politics.

“I thought his promises were weak and low ambition. Inflation is the biggest example of that. So you get inflation down to a rate lower than is already predicted, it is not a big promise to the British public.

“The idea that after 13 years of failure you can come along in the 13th year and say ‘I have got five new promises, please give us one more chance’, I just feel is so far removed from reality.”

The Labour leader, whose party would abolish and replace the House of Lords if it wins the next election and replace it with a regionally elected chamber, said the country needed a new approach to politics and the economy.

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Sir Keir said: “This year, let’s imagine instead, what we can achieve if we match the ambition of the British people. That’s why I say Britain needs a completely new way of governing.

“You can’t overstate how much a short-term mindset dominates Westminster, and, from there, how it infects all the institutions which try, and fail, to run Britain from the centre.

“The long-term cure, that always eludes us.”

On the NHS, the Labour leader said crises affecting the country have each been “an iceberg on the horizon”.

The new approach to governing, Sir Keir said, will be driven by “national missions”, which the party will set out in coming weeks.

His own party, he said, had changed too under his leadership.

To applause, Sir Keir said: “People know we care, they always know the Labour party cares and they can now see a party that is both competent and compassionate.”

Despite this, the Labour leader insisted spending limits would be needed under his party, because they would inherit a “damaged economy and country” if elected.

Taking a question on his pledge not to borrow heavily, Sir Keir said: “That commitment in relation to the chequebook is because we know we are going to inherit a badly damaged economy and badly damaged country.

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“Therefore we have to be absolutely clear that we can’t just spend our way out of that mess.

“Obviously we will set out our case as we go into the election and we have already set out our fiscal rules in terms of spending, only borrowing to invest, and getting debt down as a percentage of our economy.”

The party leader added: “After 13 years of failure on every level, we know we are going to inherit a very badly damaged economy, and that’s what drives me to say we won’t be getting out that big government chequebook.

“Everything we say we will do will be fully costed and set out, as it already has been, and we’ll do that going into the election.”

Amid ongoing union action across Britain, Sir Keir said Labour would likely repeal any anti-strike legislation brought in by Mr Sunak.

He said: “Frankly, the Government is all over the show on this. Every day there is a different briefing as to whether there is going to be legislation, what it is going to be and when it is going to come.

“I think there is a reason for that and that is because I don’t think this legislation is going to work. I am pretty sure they have had an assessment that tells them that it is likely to make a bad situation worse.

“Obviously we will look at what they bring forward, but if it is further restrictions then we would repeal it and the reason for that is I do not think that legislation is the way that you bring an end to industrial disputes.”

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Introducing her party leader on Thursday, Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves asked the audience: “Are you and your family better off than you were 13 years ago?

“Does anything in Britain work today better than it did 13 years ago?”

Ms Reeves said the country faced the choice of following the path of “managed decline” under the Conservatives, or “we can change course, to build a greener, fairer, and more dynamic Britain”.



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