Keir Starmer says Labour will not nationalise 'Big Six' energy firms

The Labour leader distanced himself from Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto plan to nationalise the energy sector – and appeared to ditch a leadership pledge to support common ownership

Labour will not nationalise the largest energy firms on entering power, Keir Starmer has said.

The Labour leader distanced himself from his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto plan to nationalise the energy sector – in a move likely to anger the left wing of the party.

And he appeared to ditch his 2020 leadership pledge to “support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.

Asked if he would nationalise the big six energy companies, he told the BBC: “No.”

He was shown one of his 10 pledges during his leadership election which said “public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.

Keir Starmer watches a speech on the first day of Labour conference


Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)

“I don’t see nationalisation there,” he said.

“When it comes to common ownership I’m pragmatic about this. I do not agree with the argument that says we must be ideological.”

But he did not say what form common ownership would take if it was not nationalisation.

“I’d be pragmatic about it, and where common ownership is value for money for the taxpayer and delivers better services then there should be common ownership,” he added.

He pointed to the much-criticised Test and Trace system, which Labour would like to see under public ownership.

Shadow Energy Secretary Ed Miliband insisted earlier this that Labour was committed to public ownership to make the transition to green energy.

“Wait for the conference, but Keir Starmer said in his leadership campaign he was in favour of public ownership in those areas. We haven’t changed that commitment,” he told BBC Newsnight.

He added: “If we’re going to make this green transition, then public ownership is the right way to go. We don’t resile from those commitments.”

Mr Starmer also failed to rule out raising income tax if he entered Downing Street – which contradicts his Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Ms Reeves told the Sunday Times: “I don’t have any plans to increase the rates of income tax.”

But she added: “I do think that people who get their income through wealth should have to pay more.”

Mr Starmer told the BBC: “We are looking at tax – nothing is off the table, but we don’t know what the state of the national finances will be as we go to the election.

“What Rachel Reeves (shadow chancellor) said is she’s not currently considering income tax and that is fine, but what I’m saying is as we go into the election we will apply the principles we have set out to the situation as it arises.

“What we don’t want to do – whether it’s income tax or any other sort of tax, national insurance – is unfairly to hit working families, which is what this Government is doing.”

He did not say whether he is looking at a wealth tax, but added: “Look at the choice the Government is making – under their provision, under their tax they announced the other week, those with many properties as landlords don’t pay a penny more, their working tenants do.”

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