Starmer promises to make Britain a ‘clean energy superpower’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will travel to Aberdeen where he will pledge to make Britain a “clean energy superpower”.

His trip comes after a bruising week for the Opposition leader,  having suffered a major rebellion over his decision not to back a ceasefire in the war in Gaza.

While in Scotland on Friday, Sir Keir will meet energy industry bosses and confirm that key North Sea industries will be eligible for the British Jobs Bonus – estimated to create 29,000 UK jobs by 2050 by rewarding clean energy developers.

Labour said its plans to make Britain a “clean energy superpower” will support up to 50,000 jobs in Scotland by 2030.

Sir Keir will be joined by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband.

He will also meet trade unions and energy sector workers.

The emphasis on clean power is in contrast to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signing-off on granting new North Sea oil and gas licences every year as part of his shift on environmental policies.

The licences announcement was included in the King’s Speech last week, with the Conservative Party leader accused by his critics of watering down a host of commitments designed to help the UK meet its target of having a net zero carbon economy by 2050.

Labour, as part of the party leader’s visit to Scotland, will confirm that the British Jobs Bonus will apply to hydrogen, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and floating offshore wind (Flow) – three of the core technologies for a jobs-rich transition in the North Sea.

The bonuses will come from a £2.5 billion fund of catalytic public investment, to attract additional private sector investment, and help create thousands of jobs for Scotland’s energy communities.

Labour has already announced that GB Energy, a new publicly-owned company to invest in clean homegrown power and make Britain energy secure, will be headquartered in Scotland.

Speaking ahead of the trip, Sir Keir said: “The road to making Britain a clean energy superpower, slashing energy bills and creating tens of thousands of quality jobs runs through Scotland and the North Sea.

Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been accused of watering down net zero pledges (Leon Neal/PA)

“This Conservative Party has zero ambition, zero plan and zero concern for the millions of British families suffering sky-high energy bills as a result of the Government’s abject failure.

“Every day that they play political games, causing uncertainty and investment risk for the sector, they are costing jobs and hitting people’s pockets.

“My Labour government will rise above short term gimmicks, put the country before our party, and deliver the long-term future of our energy industry.

“From establishing GB Energy, our publicly owned energy company headquartered in Scotland, to delivering the most significant investment in Scotland’s ports since privatisation, and securing the future of technologies like CCS, hydrogen and offshore wind, with Labour, Scotland and the North Sea will power Britain’s clean energy future.

“Only Labour can deliver lower bills, good jobs, and energy security for our country.”

The focus on energy policy comes after a bruising week which saw the party’s divisions over the Israel-Hamas war play out in public.

Jess Phillips
Jess Phillips was one of the shadow ministers to leave their post to vote for the SNP’s Gaza ceasefire motion (Yui Mok/PA)

During a vote in Parliament on an amendment to the King’s Speech on Wednesday, 56 Labour MPs defied their party leader’s position of advocating for pauses in the fighting so they could support a cessation in hostilities.

Ten shadow ministers and parliamentary aides quit or were sacked in order to vote for the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) motion.

The Guardian reported that there could be further frontbench resignations, citing sources who said some would be willing to walk away from their positions if Sir Keir does not push the Prime Minister to take a tougher line on Israel’s military retaliation in Gaza.

Since Israel started striking back at Hamas after its deadly raids on October 7, the Gazan health ministry — run by the Palestinian militant group — says more than 11,470 people have been killed in the territory.

Rushanara Ali, the small business shadow minister, obeyed the three-line Labour whip not to vote for the SNP ceasefire wording but said afterwards that “leaving the shadow government is something I am always willing to do”.

“The moment I feel my presence is less positively impactful than my absence, I will do so,” the Bethnal Green and Bow MP said in a statement.

Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence, was one of those to leave her post to support a ceasefire call in the Commons.

The Birmingham Yardley MP has since said that she wants to be “an asset” to Sir Keir from the backbenches and hinted that he could bring her back onto the front bench.

She told The News Agents podcast: “One of the things Keir Starmer, did say to me yesterday was ‘I need people like you to help me deliver the missions that we have coming up with together you and I, Jess’.

“And I said ‘Then you have me’.’’