Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer made a huge energy revelation at the party conference in Liverpool today by announcing plans to set up a publicly-owned firm in his first year in Government. This, he said, is set to slash foreign influence on the industry in the UK. Sir Keir warned that not enough UK energy is British-owned, with firms foreign firms controlling large swathes of the energy mix in the country. The Labour leader also stressed that this could help protect the country from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s weaponisation of energy by boosting our own independence and security amid a crisis that has been sent soaring.
He said at the conference in Liverpool on Tuesday: “Look at what is happening at the moment. The largest onshore windfarm in Wales, who owns it? Sweden.
“Energy bills in Swansea are paying for schools and hospitals in Stockholm. The Chinese Communist Party has a stake in our nuclear industry. And five million people in Britain pay their bills to an energy company owned by France. So we will set up Great British Energy within the first year of a Labour Government, a new company.”
The leader of the opposition added that the company will be able to take advantage of the exciting opportunities emerging in clean power generation. He also claimed it will boost jobs and help to grow the economy.
It marks part of Labour’s wider plan to grow a green economy, which Sir Keir said will give “British power to the British people”, also pledging to “fight the Tories on economic growth”.
The bombshell comes as the nation grapples with a crippling energy crisis that has seen bills soar for millions across the country. While Prime Minister Liz Truss’ energy support package will freeze bills for the typical household at £2,500, knocking off £1,000 from Ofgem’s planned price cap, Britain continues to import much of its energy from abroad.
This leaves it exposed to volatile markets, purchasing gas at expensive international prices sparked largely by Russia’s war in Ukraine and Putin’s gas cuts. Now, ministers and experts from across the spectrum have called for Britain to ramp up its homegrown supplies and boost its energy independence to prevent the crisis from deepening.
But last month, Sir Keir rejected calls to renationalise energy as a means of addressing the crisis, instead unveiling a huge £29billion plan to freeze bills at current levels.
It came after former Labour leader Gordon Brown called for some energy companies to be nationalised amid skyrocketing bills to shield consumers from forking out extra cash. But when asked why he did not support the measure, Sir Keir responded: “We had a basic choice to make, which is do we use the money that we will put behind this to reduce those prices, those bills, or do we use it for other things?
“If you go down the nationalisation route, that means using money to pay shareholders, because nationalisation doesn’t come for free.
“If I made an announcement this week to millions of households and say the way I’m going to deal with this this winter is to pay money to shareholders…but not do anything to reduce your bill, they would have said to me: ‘Keir, you don’t recognise the extent to which we’re struggling with our bills’.”
“Every single penny of our scheme should go to reducing bills, not paying off shareholders through nationalisation.”
This is a breaking story. More to follow.