Keir Starmer vows to ‘reset’ relationship with Holyrood

Keir Starmer vows to ‘reset’ relationship with Holyrood

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, The new Prime Minister announced the visit at a press conference at Downing Street on Saturday

Sir Keir Starmer is seeking an “immediate reset” of the relationship between Westminster and the self-governing nations as he embarks on a tour of the UK.

The first stop is Scotland, where he is expected to meet Prime Minister John Swinney.

Sir Keir said his government’s relationships with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be based on “respect”.

The visit comes days after his party secured a landslide victory in the general election, dramatically improving Labour’s position in Scotland.

  • Author, Megan Bonar
  • Role, BBC Scotland News

Labour now has 37 Scottish MPs, up from just one in 2019, while the SNP’s number fell by 39, leaving them with just nine MPs at Westminster.

After holding his first Cabinet meeting on Saturday, Sir Keir announced he would visit all four countries in the UK before flying to Washington on Tuesday for a NATO meeting.

He said: “People in the UK are united by shared beliefs.

“Fundamental values ​​of respect, service and community define us as a great country.

“That starts today with an immediate review of my government’s approach to working with first ministers and deputy first ministers, because meaningful collaboration, based on respect, will be essential to delivering change in the UK.”

Mr Swinney congratulated Sir Keir on his appointment during a telephone conversation on Friday and said he was committed to working with the new UK government on “shared priorities for the people of Scotland”.

“These include eradicating child poverty, growing the economy, prioritising net zero emissions and ensuring effective public services,” he said.

Mr Swinney added: “I welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to forging a positive relationship between our governments and, for our part, the Scottish Government is committed to working constructively with the UK Government to build a better Scotland.”

Video caption, ‘We are going to reset devolution,’ says Anas Sarwar

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also said the new UK government would “reset” devolution.

“So we will work with everyone to deliver for the people of Scotland. And that is why Keir Starmer’s first visit outside Downing Street comes to Scotland.”

Mr Sarwar was asked whether the new Labour government would introduce a separate Scottish immigration system, allowing workers to come to the country with a separate tax regime, to help address labour shortages north of the border.

He replied: “No. We need one UK Border Agency. Of course we need one immigration system.”

He added: “But if you have two governments that are prepared to work together, you can find separate solutions for Scotland.”

He cited as an example the Fresh Talent initiative, introduced 20 years ago by the Labour-led Scottish government to tackle the shrinking population.

The programme encouraged graduates from Scottish universities abroad to remain in Scotland to work.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Labour supporters waved the Welsh and Scottish flags, as well as the Union flag, as Keir Starmer arrived in Downing Street for the first time as Prime Minister

During the election campaign, Sir Keir visited Scotland on a number of occasions in an attempt to win over Scottish voters.

One of the party’s most notable policies is the creation of a public energy company, GB Energy, with headquarters in Scotland.

No location has been announced yet, but there is speculation it could be Aberdeen, in an attempt to assuage concerns that Labour’s policy of not awarding new oil and gas licences could lead to job losses in the north-east of Scotland.

Labour’s campaign was rewarded with a gain of 36 seats across the country, including all six seats in Glasgow.

In the central region, the party made big gains, with most of the results coming from a vote difference of around 20% over the SNP.

Other major victories were achieved in Edinburgh, Fife and Tayside.