Keir Starmer announces he'll turn Brexit slogan Take Back Control into a new law

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Keir Starmer announces he
Keir Starmer announces he'll turn Brexit slogan Take Back Control into a new law

Keir Starmer will pass a ‘Take Back Control Bill’ to seize the message of Brexiteers as one of his first acts in government, he announced today.

The Labour leader pledged to “embrace” the slogan of Vote Leave - years after the 2016 ballot where he backed Remain.

But he said it would mean “devolving new powers" outside London. This includes "employment support, transport, energy, climate change, housing, culture, childcare provision and how councils run their finances."

He also vowed to repeal the Tories' planned minimum service levels for striking workers - blasting Rishi Sunak's "war on nurses" - after previously failing to say he'd do so.

Standing in front of machinery with his sleeves rolled up, he said: “We’re going to roll up our sleeves, fix the problems and improve our country.”

Dominic Raab spotted giving Keir Starmer a 'death stare' during Zelensky visit rridqziqtqitinvDominic Raab spotted giving Keir Starmer a 'death stare' during Zelensky visit

Mr Starmer gave a wide-ranging New Year speech in East London - a few metres from where Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled five pledges that were blasted as 'empty words'.

Keir Starmer announces he'll turn Brexit slogan Take Back Control into a new lawThe Labour leader promised a 'more dynamic' Britain with more devolution in his first speech of 2023 (PA)

Despite previously campaigning for a second EU referendum, and saying he would "bring back" EU free movement as PM, he said: "A whole host of issues were on that ballot.

"But as I went around the country, campaigning for Remain, I couldn’t disagree with the basic case so many Leave voters made to me.

"People who wanted public services they could rely on. High streets they could be proud of. Opportunities for the next generation."

He vowed "a new Take Back Control Bill" would be "a centrepiece of our first King’s speech, delivering "a new approach to politics and democracy. A new approach to growth and our economy."

In his speech, Labour's leader pledged to end the era of Tory “sticking plaster politics” and build a "fairer, greener, more dynamic country".

With Labour 20 points ahead in many polls, he said his style of governing if he wins will be to devolve power outside London - and reform the "rinse and repeat circus" of "short-term" thinking in Westminster.

Keir Starmer announces he'll turn Brexit slogan Take Back Control into a new lawKeir Starmer gave a wide-ranging New Year speech in East London - a few metres from where Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled five pledges (AFP via Getty Images)

“Britain needs a completely new way of governing," he said. "We will modernise central government so it becomes, dynamic, agile, strong and, above all, focused. Driven by clear, measurable objectives. National missions."

He pledged “a decade of national renewal” - but warned Labour cannot “spend its way” out of the Tory mess.

He said: "Let me be clear - none of this should be taken as code for Labour getting its big government cheque-book out.

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"Of course investment is required - I can see the damage the Tories have done to our public services as plainly as anyone. But we won’t be able to spend our way out of their mess - it’s not as simple as that."

Mr Starmer added he would be "more relaxed" about bringing the private sector's "expertise" into public services, alongside public expertise, businesses and unions.

Keir Starmer announces he'll turn Brexit slogan Take Back Control into a new lawKeir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves holding rivet guns for aircraft wing manufacturing during a walkabout before the speech (PA)

He did not rule out matching Tory spending limits going into the 2024 election, saying: “We know we’re going to inherit a badly damaged economy and a badly damaged country”.

He said “we’ll set out our case as we go into the election”, but Labour's rules would include only borrowing to invest, and getting debt down.

He also declined to say if a 2% pay rise for nurses in 2023 would be too little, saying: “Let’s wait and see what the government actually brings forward”.

Keir Starmer announces he'll turn Brexit slogan Take Back Control into a new lawHe also vowed to repeal the Tories' planned minimum service levels for striking workers - blasting Rishi Sunak's "war on nurses" (AFP via Getty Images)

And he would not be drawn into whether he stood by scrapping university tuition fees, saying: “University tuition fees are not working well, they burden young people going forward. Obviously we have got a number of propositions in relation to those fees that we will put forward as we go into the election.

"But I have to be honest about it, the damage that has been done to our economy means that we are going to have to, and we know we will, cost everything as we go into that election and we will do that with disciple as we have done it so far.”

Mr Starmer said 2023 marks a "new chapter for Britain, with a new King to be crowned in May" and promised "the real hope of a better future.

"Not the sort of hope that fires grandiose, utopian visions - I don’t mean that. I mean the basic, ordinary hope we used to take for granted.”

Dan Bloom

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