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Brexit is Tories’ ‘biggest failure’ with ‘no plan for future’, Keir Starmer says

’With Liz Truss, the Tories are changing the meaning of Brexit before your eyes”, Labour leader warns

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 27 September 2022 15:54 BST
'Don't forget, don't forgive': Keir Starmer calls to oust Tory government

Keir Starmer has branded Brexit the Conservatives’ “biggest failure” – accusing the party of betraying a public that voted for better public services and stronger communities.

In his fiercest criticism of the government’s handling of EU withdrawal, the Labour leader said it epitomised how ministers “lurch from crisis to crisis” on issues.

Insisting Labour would “make Brexit work” – not seek to reverse it – Sir Keir said only he could deliver the Leave promise that people would “take control” of their lives.

“I didn’t hear that Brexit was about slashing workers’ rights. I didn’t hear people wanting to lower standards on food, animal welfare or the environment. I didn’t hear them wanting to end redistribution,” Sir Keir said.

“So I want to speak directly to the people who left Labour on this issue. Whether you voted Leave or Remain, you’ve been let down.

“And with Liz Truss, the Tories are changing the meaning of Brexit before your eyes.”

Sir Keir did not announce any change in his limited push to ease the Brexit trading blockages and make it easier for creative artists and professionals to work in the EU – despite party pressure to do so.

But he said: “If you voted to take control of your life and for the next generation to have control of theirs, then I say to you: that is what I will deliver.”

On the Conservatives, he said: “They don’t plan for the future – they don’t believe it’s their job. And so we lurch from crisis to crisis, always reacting, always behind the curve, a sticking plaster, never a cure.

“And if you want the totemic symbol of this, the biggest failure to grasp the nettle, then look no further than Brexit.”

The attack came as Sir Keir announced Labour would set up a new publicly-owned green energy company as a rival to foreign investors in the vital industry.

Great British Energy would “harness the power of Britain’s sun, wind, and waves to cut energy bills and deliver energy independence”, he told the conference.

The firm would be modelled on companies in many European, Asian, and American countries, which work in partnership with the private sector to increase capacity.

But the move was criticised as too little by the Labour pressure group Green New Deal Rising, while calling it a step in the right direction.

“To achieve a transformative Green New Deal we need full public ownership of our energy sector,” said spokeswoman Hannah Martin.

But she added: “Alongside pledges to achieve clean power by 2030 and a public stake in renewables investment, it is good to see Labour starting to understand that we can tackle climate change at the same time as fixing our broken economy.”

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