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Labour leadership contender calls for federal future for UK

Credit: PA Images

One of the candidates in the Labour leadership contest says the way the United Kingdom is governed should change radically into a federal structure like Germany or the United States.

Sir Keir Starmer made his comments ahead of campaign visits he has planned to the different nations of the UK, including Wales, this week. He'd paused his campaign to deal with a family illness.

Along with Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry, he's hoping to take over the reigns of the Labour party when Jeremy Corbyn stands down in March.

Lisa Nandy is also due to visit Wales. She's expected to be in Mold this week.

In his remarks, the shadow brexit secretary says the shake-up is needed because 'the status quo is not working.'

The position would go further than any previous Labour commitments to changing the way that the UK is structured. The party's General Election manifesto promised to set up a constitutional convention to look at such matters.

We need to end the monopoly of power in Westminster and spread it across every town, city, region and nation of the United Kingdom. We have to end the status quo and put power, wealth and opportunity back into the hands of the people.

We need a new constitutional settlement: a large-scale devolution of power and resources. This will involve building a new long-term political and constitutional consensus. I believe that could best be built on the principle of federalism.

But this can’t just be about handing power from one group of politicians to another. I want to empower people to have a real say in their workplace, in the communities they’re part of and over the public services they use. We will only repair the shattered trust in politics by letting people take back control of the decisions that affect their lives.

– Sir Keir Starmer MP

Keir Starmer's comments follow a call for further powers for Wales and Scotland by another candidate in the leadership contest.

Rebecca Long-Bailey told a leadership hustings that the devolved parliaments should be 'on an equal footing' with Westminster. "I'm always going to argue for the union," she said. "But I want our Scottish parliament and our Welsh parliament to feel as completely autonomous and independent as they possibly can whilst having that collaborative relationship with Westminster."

And both comments come at a time when relations between the governments of the UK could be about to hit a new low.

That's because the UK Government has pressed ahead with its Withdrawal Agreement Bill despite the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies and the Scottis Parliament refusing to give their consent to it.

It's the first time all three devolved parliaments have rejected UK Government legislation and the first time ministers in Cardiff have overridden the views of all three.

There'll be a meeting of ministers in Cardiff on Tuesday. The Welsh Government says it will be looking for action on assurances it's been given that this situation is a one-off and that the devolved administrations will get a say in future negotiations.