Starmer slams British PM Sunak’s no-show as lays out own stall

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Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer on Thursday criticised British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for not showing up in Davos, saying that the country’s absence had been noted by people he had met at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Setting out his party’s stall as a future government to influential world business leaders gathered in the Swiss mountain resort, Starmer told a WEF panel discussion that a future Labour government would pursue an “active state”.

This he said, would be partnered with the private sector, adding that it was important that the left-leaning Labour party restored trust if it came to power in Britain.

Labour’s economic credibility with financial institutions and markets, which have in the past been wary of some of its policies, suffered under Starmer’s more radical predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, who was popular with far-left voters but unable to oust the ruling Conservative party at the polls.

Starmer said that the meeting of global business leaders in Davos was an opportunity to speak to CEOs and investors who could partner with a future Labour government to push the party’s green prosperity plan, which involves establishing a new vehicle called Great British Energy.

He said that a renewables strategy was needed that bound together the challenge of high bills, the next generation of jobs and an obligation to tackle the climate crisis.

“There’s huge potential for this in the UK in terms of wind and offshore wind, we are already developing at that speed, and we need the onshore wind to go with it so that we have a combination that brings the prices down, gets us off the international reliance on oil and gas, and gives us the next generation of jobs and deals with the climate crisis,” Starmer said.

The opposition party leader also said it was important to tell a clear story around stability and economic growth, adding that Britain had all the right attributes for investment but needed to create the right circumstances and environment for it.

Although Sunak decided not to attend the meeting in Davos, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson did make it to the resort, where he urged Britain’s allies to double down on sending military equipment to Ukraine.

Starmer said Labour wants to establish a new role for fossil fuel firms in the energy transition and that there would be no new investment in oil and gas fields under a Labour government.

“What we’ve said about oil and gas is that there does need to be a transition. It will play its part during that transition but not new investment, not new fields up in the North Sea, because we need to go towards net zero, we need to ensure that renewable energy is where we go next,” he said.

Britain has just held a new licensing round for oil and gas exploration licenses in the North Sea under the Conservatives and has refrained from joining international clubs of countries that ban new oil and gas field developments.