Keir Starmer: Scotland’s economy failed before Brexit

The Labor leader said the “fundamentals” needed to be fixed to boost growth.

His comments came after the SNP accused him of throwing Scotland “under Boris Johnson’s Brexit bus”.

Sir Keir has repeatedly ruled out a return to the EU under a Labor government, insisting Britain will have a better Brexit when he is No. 10.

However, companies have warned that the UK needs more foreign workers to spur growth.

CONTINUE READING: Sir Keir Starmer tells business leaders: ‘We can have a better Brexit

With elections looming next year and a desire to woo the industry, Sir Keir and his shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, were north of the border for a dinner with over 150 companies on Thursday night.

On Friday morning they were at the Siemens factory in Cambuslang, where they met some trainees.


Speaking to journalists afterwards, the opposition leader said startups in Scotland fail more often than in the rest of the UK.

“By the way, that’s in Scotland, which has a strong economic history.

“Most people recognize that it’s not just a Brexit issue, it’s taking a lot longer than Brexit and so we need to get the basics in order.

“And last night the plea was for stability, for respect for the institutions that are so important to stability, to bring in the investment that we need in Scotland.”

He said his party is “laser focused on moving the economy forward” with a mission to achieve the highest sustainable growth in the G7.

“It will be transformative for Scotland,” he promised.

Ms Reeves said there are other ways to increase the workforce without having to rely on immigration.

“There are 500,000 fewer people in the labor market than before the pandemic as people have taken early retirement and people have been ill. The lack of availability of childcare means that so many working parents, especially mothers, are inactive.

“So rather than always turning to immigration, we need to make sure people who are already in the UK have the support to get back to work and we need to educate people too.”

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Asked about the impact on NE of his pledge to phase out fossil fuels from all UK electricity generation by 2030, Sir Keir said: “What’s really important about this transition is that a lot of oil and gas companies in Scotland are participating In this conversation with us, they tell us that “we want to do this with you, we have the ambition to do it by 2030, but it will be difficult”.

“My approach is that one country will get there first, why shouldn’t it be Scotland? Why shouldn’t it be Great Britain?

“We have that ambition, I think Scottish companies have that ambition and we want to have a Labor government so we can make that change, get behind the wheel and make sure the economy in Scotland moves forward, consistent with history, we’ve had here in Scotland, not the failures we’ve had for the past 14 years or so.”

Ms Reeves said the goal for 2030 is clean energy. “Obviously oil and gas will be a factor in the UK for many years to come, even under a Labor government.”

“If we don’t embrace the opportunities of carbon capture and green hydrogen, you can bet another country, whether it’s the US, Europe or Australia, will.

“Why not Britain and why not Scotland?

“We have everything in our favor apart from a government in Westminster and a government in Holyrood working in partnership with business to take advantage of these tremendous opportunities.”

CONTINUE READING: Keir Starmer in Glasgow to make a vow of austerity ahead of the election

Sir Keir said there were natural resources in Scotland “like you don’t see anywhere else in the world”.

“You have offshore skills, put them together and you have an incredible opportunity, put a timeline on it and you can achieve it.”

Ahead of the visit, SNP Westminster Deputy Leader Mhairi Black said: “Keir Starmer is delighted to throw Scotland under Boris Johnson’s Brexit bus – and as such he has no credibility when speaking of Scotland’s economy.

“Under him and Anas Sarwar, Labor is a pro-Brexit party that would do nothing to undo the appalling damage the Tories are doing to Scotland after pulling us out of the EU.

“Instead, Labor stands shoulder to shoulder with the Tories to keep us out of a single market seven times the size of the UK.

“It is becoming clearer by the day that the only way forward for Scotland is to become an independent country and join the European Union.”

Scottish Conservative finance spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “The SNP government’s record on productivity and growth is terrible – but there is no reason to think Labor would do any better.

“Keir Starmer ignores the fact that Scottish Labor under Anas Sarwar has consistently backed the very SNP policies that have stifled economic growth and rendered Scotland uncompetitive.” Keir Starmer: Scotland’s economy failed before Brexit

Adam Bradshaw

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