Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to deliver clean power for the UK by 2030 – and told Sky News he wants to have “a fight” with the Conservative Party on his green commitments.
Asked about the 2030 pledge, he told Wilfred Frost on Sky News: “I’m not prepared to move that date. People keep saying to me, are you moving back on your goal? No, we’re not – clean power by 2030.
“But look, it’s absolutely clear to me that the Tories are trying to weaponise this issue, the £28bn, etc.
“It’s a fight I want to have, if we can have a fight going into the election between an incoming Labour government that wants to invest in the future long-term strategy that will lower our bills and give us energy independence, versus stagnation, more of the same under this government.
“If they want that fight on borrow to invest, I’m absolutely up for that.”
The measures Labour has said it will target include quadrupling offshore wind, more than doubling onshore wind, more than tripling solar power, and backing new nuclear power.
Politics latest: Sir Keir Starmer faces questions as election year kicks off
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The Labour leader added that he was “very happy to do live debates” – including on Sky News – but the specifics would be negotiated at a later date.
Sir Keir added that his first mission was to grow the economy, and he reiterated that any fiscal pledge would need to adhere to his party’s fiscal rules.
The party has previously watered down the £28bn pledge – saying it was a target rather than a commitment.
Sir Keir was asked if it was “irresponsible” to have a “trade-off” between green policies and the economy.
He told Wilfred Frost on the Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme: “No, I don’t.
“Because the government is trying to pretend that the date on which an incoming Labour government signs a particular cheque, is what matters. What matters is clean power by 2030, keeping to those targets.
“I’m not prepared to move that date.”
The Labour leader last week launched his general election campaign, with a vote likely to take place this year.
Speaking near Bristol on Thursday, he rejected that he was “cautious” and pitching himself as simply a way to end the Conservative’s time in power.
Sir Keir added that the “change that we are offering, the difference that we want to make, between 14 years of decline and a decade of national renewal, they are fundamentally different things”.
Earlier this week, Rishi Sunak indicated he will call an election in the second part of this year – with Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates hearing that 14 November is the frontrunner in government circles.
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Sir Keir taking on Tory strategy head on with challenge on spending
The first week of the year has seen both party leaders shift into gear for the long election campaign – something fully on show in Sir Keir Starmer’s first Sunday morning interview of 2024.
The pre-ballot trash talk has started with the Labour leader calling on the prime minister to “set a date” now with a new attack line levelled on his opposite number that Rishi Sunak is trying to clock up two years in office before going to the polls.
But despite claiming to be ready for the vote, much of Sir Keir’s policy offering still appears to be a work in progress.
On taxation, the Labour leader suggested he would look to prioritise taxes for people in work – but would go no further.
On the party’s 2021 pledge to spend £28bn on clean energy investment, a pivot is undoubtedly in the offing as Sir Keir looks to shift the emphasis away from the exact figure – which many doubt can be hit given the party’s fiscal rules – and to the longer term promise for clean electricity by 2030.
Plenty of people doubt a Labour government would meet that pledge either, but it’s the £28bn that the Conservatives have chosen to weaponise – hence the recalibration.
We saw Sir Keir address that Tory strategy head on though, saying that if Rishi Sunak wants that fight in the election campaign “bring it on”.
For a politician sometimes accused of lacking personality and emotional depth, we also got a rare glimpse into Starmer the husband and Starmer the father.
He spoke of his one big worry about his potential career trajectory saying there would undoubtedly be an impact on his young children and he “desperately” wanted to protect them.
It’s likely to be a messy and vicious election campaign.
This won’t be the last time that Sir Keir is asked about matters beyond politics and policy.
Sir Keir told Sky that the prime minister is putting “vanity before country” by delaying the calling of a vote, adding that he wants a vote “as soon as possible”.
The Labour leader pointed out this is the first election since 2015 which the public knows is coming in advance.
“And so if people want change – and I think they do – I can make that case.
“But in the end it’s voters who will, on whatever day it is, be able to go and put that cross on the ballot and determine the future of their country.
“I mean, the power of the vote is incredible, and it’s a reminder that this year voters have the power to vote for hope and change.”
In his interview with Wilfred Frost, Sir Keir was also asked which taxes he would cut to deliver his desire to lowering the tax burden.
He did not name any specifics, but rather stated that “taxes on working people” would be what he is aiming to reduce if he gets the keys to Number 10.
But the Labour leader said government needs to look at the reasons for a high tax burden – singling out a “low growth economy” and 14 years of “effectively” stagnation.
“We’ve got to have a discussion about how we grow the economy,” he said.
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Sir Keir Starmer opens up about family support. Speaking about the more personal side of being a frontline politician, Sir Keir said his wife Victoria “is fantastic”.
He added: “She is my complete support and partner in this.
“She doesn’t do anything publicly; she wants to get on with her job, she works for the NHS, we’ve got two relatively young children, a boy who’s 15, a boy who’s 13, but it impacts them all of the time, every single day.
“And all of that I do, I talk through with Vic, all the big decisions, the ones which we sit and talk thorough at home, and that is a good thing except I’m not sure she signed up for this.”