Sunday 20 December 2020 / 10:30 PM Keir Starmer

Starmer pledges to ‘push power closer to people’ as he launches ‘boldest devolution project for a generation’

Keir Starmer will tomorrow announce the launch of a UK-wide mission focused on ensuring the next Labour government spreads “power, wealth and opportunity” out of Westminster and to the British people.

In a landmark speech on the future of the United Kingdom, Starmer will announce that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown will bring his extensive experience to advise on the “boldest project Labour has embarked on for a generation”.

The work will focus on handing “real and lasting economic and political devolution across our towns, communities and to people across the country”.

Promising a “path to a socially just and secure, modern United Kingdom” the Labour leader will lay a marker down ahead of next May’s Scottish elections.

His speech will set out a “fresh and tangible offer” to the Scottish people in the face of division under the SNP and stagnation under the Conservatives.

Starmer will make clear that the project will focus not only on Scotland but the whole UK, with “a yearning across the United Kingdom for politics and power to be much closer to people”.

Keir Starmer is expected to say:

“It is Labour’s duty to offer a positive alternative to the Scottish people. To show that you don’t have to choose between a broken status quo and the uncertainty and divisiveness of separatism.

“It is our duty – my duty – to make the alternative case for a devolved and a socially just Scotland in a modern United Kingdom.”

He will add:

“The case for the next phase of devolution was urgent before Covid, but the pandemic has put rocket boosters under it. Our Labour council leaders, mayors and metro mayors have stood up for their communities against a centralised Westminster-knows-best response.

“A national crisis on this scale should have been the time for central government to work with and empower local communities to bring the country together.

“But too often the UK Government’s approach has been to pit council against council, town against town, city against city, mayor against mayor. It’s no surprise that the many local leaders I’ve spoken to have felt distanced and ignored on decisions that have had huge consequences on people’s jobs, lives and their communities.

“This has got to change. That’s why I’m announcing today that in the new year, Labour will launch a UK-wide Constitutional Commission to consider how power, wealth and opportunity can be devolved to the most local level.

“This won’t be an exercise in shifting power from one Parliament to another, of moving a few jobs out of London or to ‘devolve and to forget’.

“This will be the boldest project Labour has embarked on for a generation and every bit as bold and radical as the programme of devolution that Labour delivered in the 1990s and 2000s.

“It will consider all parts of the United Kingdom and it will focus on delivering real – and lasting – economic and political devolution across our towns, our communities and to people across the country.”

To voters in Scotland, he will say:

“Boris Johnson isn’t Britain just as Nicola Sturgeon isn’t Scotland. The United Kingdom is much more than that, more than any individual. It has been before – and can be again – a great force for social justice, for security and for solidarity.

“And under my leadership, we will do everything we can to win back your trust in Labour, but equally importantly, in the United Kingdom.

On the future of the United Kingdom, he will say:

“Unless we grasp the nettle, and deliver real devolution of power and resources, we won’t be able to renew our United Kingdom for the 2020s and 2030s.

“We won’t be able to tackle the root causes of the appalling inequalities and injustices that we see across our regions and nations. And we won’t be able to make Britain the country I know it can be: the best place to grow up in and the best place to grow old in.”