Labour Party conference: Sir Keir Starmer announces his government will create UK energy company

With Labour significantly ahead in the polls, leader Sir Keir Starmer gave the biggest speech of his career. ITV News' Political Editor Robert Peston reports from the Labour Party conference.

Sir Keir Starmer has announced a Labour government will create a publicly-owned, green energy company to cut bills, as he pitched his party as a government in waiting that's ready for power.

Buoyed with confidence after his party surged ahead of the Conservatives in the polls, the leader set out his vision for the country to great applause as he told the hall to never "forgive" the Tories for "losing control of the economy".

In his keynote speech, he also vowed to boost home ownership, increase NHS staffing and provide stability at a time of economic turmoil as he sought to present Labour as an alternative to "12 long years" of “Tory failure”.

Sir Keir closed his hour-long speech to a standing ovation declaring that like in 1945, 1964 and 1997, "this is a Labour moment".

He quoted Sir Tony's words ahead of his landslide election victory in 1997, telling cheering members that Labour is "the party of the centre-ground - once again the political wing of the British people".

Among plans, Sir Keir pledged to deliver a new, green state-owned company, Great British Energy, to cut bills, deliver UK energy independence and create more local jobs within the first year of a Labour government.

He argued that the war in Ukraine was not to blame for soaring energy bills - but that the Tories were for leaving the UK unprepared and argued they'd left a “Britain all at sea, where a cloud of anxiety hangs over working people”.

"Green and growth don’t just go together – they’re inseparable," he told the conference.

"The future wealth of this country is in our air, in our seas, in our skies. Britain should harness that wealth and share it with all.

"British power to the British people."

There is ambition for it to be similar in scale to foreign public generating companies like France's EDF and Sweden's Vattenfall, and would be funded from the £8 billion National Wealth Fund already announced by Labour.

The party believes the electricity generation company would enable strategic partnership between the private sector and the government to deliver the party's commitment to make the UK a clean energy superpower by 2030. 

His speech came against the backdrop of an economic crisis following Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-budget on Friday, which temporarily triggered the pound to plummet to a record-low and lenders to withdraw mortgage deals, further exacerbating the cost of living crisis.

Sir Keir opened his speech at the conference in Liverpool telling members "don't forget, don't forgive" the Tories for having “crashed the pound” to give “tax cuts for the richest 1% in our society”.

"Because we can't go on like this. What we've seen in the past few days has no precedent," he said.

“Higher interest rates, higher inflation, higher borrowing – and for what?

“Not for you, not for working people, for tax cuts for the richest 1% in our society."

Shadow cabinet ministers and key Labour figures were confident the party could secure a victory at the next general election.

Though Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner said the party "is not complacent" but Sir Keir's speech was "incredibly inspirational".

"I've got a granddaughter - I think she has hope for her future now," she told ITV News.

Appearing to hint at past divisions within the party, she said: "We have to be the party that wants to govern for the whole of Britain... and we can't be a party that's turning inwards."

She added with a smile: "We're back."

Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham told ITV News it was a "powerful speech from a prime minister in waiting".

"That's the mood of this place for certain," said the mayor. "He's set out a convincing alternative on the side of ordinary working people - that was the message that rung out loud and clear - they're [the Tories] on the side of the bankers.

"Labour is going back to government."

Sir Keir received a standing ovation as he reiterated the shadow chancellor's pledge on Monday to take on an extra 7,500 medical students every year, while doubling the number of district nurses, along with 5,000 new health visitors, and 10,000 extra nursing placements.

He said while the Tories are not on the side of the NHS, the health service runs through his own family “like a stick of rock”, adding that he's "really worried about how many lives are at risk this winter".

“Talking to doctors in my local hospital, I said ‘the NHS is on its knees, isn’t it?’. They said ‘no, Keir, it’s face down on the floor’."

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He claimed parents feared their children would not have the opportunity for a better life than them.

“That’s the deep cost of Tory failure. They keep talking about aspiration but they don’t understand how they’ve choked it off for working people,” he said.

Sir Keir stressed how much the party had changed under his leadership.

He told of how he "had to rip antisemitism out by its roots" and sought to appeal to Brexiteers who'd deserted Labour, including those in so-called Red Wall seats in northern England who helped Boris Johnson secure his 2019 landslide victory.

“I want to speak directly to the people who left Labour on this issue. Whether you voted Leave or Remain, you’ve been let down,” he said, as he promised to "make Brexit work".

Watch Sir Keir Starmer's speech in full at the Labour Party conference

Sir Keir also ruled out a deal with Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) in the event of a hung parliament, should his party fail to overturn the 80-seat majority won by the Tories under Mr Johnson in 2019.

During the four-day event in Liverpool, the party has been capitalising on the controversy over the Tories' biggest tax-cutting event in half a century, which has caused concern among the markets, with the Bank of England releasing an emergency statement warning it "won't hesitate" to raise interest rates.

In the wake of the chancellor's high-risk budget, a new YouGov poll showed Tory support had dropped by four points to 28%, while Labour’s had surged by five points to 45% - the party’s greatest lead since YouGov started polling in 2001.

Another poll by Savanta ComRes for LabourList, showed Labour is on course for a comfortable majority at the next general election with a 12 point lead over the Conservatives.