Keir Starmer is promising more devolved powers if Labour wins the next election

Monday, 21st December 2020, 10:53 am
Updated Monday, 21st December 2020, 10:54 am

Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, is set to announce that his party will deliver “the boldest devolution project in a generation” if it wins the next election.

In a speech today (21 Dec), the former Director of Public Prosecutions will seek to lay out a case for voters in Scotland to back the Labour party in next year’s Holyrood elections.

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Starmer will announce the plan to put together a constitutional commission next year, with the involvement of former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

The commission will be tasked with sketching out the basis of further devolution settlements, and will consider, “how power, wealth and opportunity can be devolved to the most local level.”

Starmer will tell voters that Labour can provide “a positive alternative to the Scottish people” and the Labour wants to “preserve and renew the United Kingdom.”

‘Labour’s duty’

The speech comes as polling on Scottish independence has shown a consistent lead in support for the idea, driven in part by Brexit, as well as Westminster’s handling of the Covid crisis.

Starmer’s speech will be broadcast live just after 11am today, with the Labour leader expected to criticise both Boris Johnson’s Conservative UK government, as well as Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, which has held power in Scotland since 2007.

He will 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.”

Any route to forming a majority government for Labour would likely mean having to win back many of the seats lost to the SNP in Scotland since 2015, but the party have failed to cut through in recent elections.

What about devolution in England?

Though today’s speech will primarily be aimed at voters in Scotland, Starmer’s commitment to devolution will extend to the English regions too.

Labour sources have briefed that the devolution plans will “take in mayoral zones and more local communities across the UK” according to Politico’s Playbook.

A number of regional and local leaders across the UK have called for devolved powers to be increased after the Covid crisis, to give them more power to take decisions and make funding available for local services.