Keir Starmer vows to protect jobs at Grangemouth as Prime Minister makes first Scotland visit since election win

Keir Starmer has said it is his "duty" as Prime Minister to protect jobs at Grangemouth oil refinery as he promised "immediate" discussions over its future.

The Labour leader said it was a "real priority" following proposals to end refining operations at the huge industrial complex on the Forth, which could result in hundreds of job losses

Speaking on a visit to Edinburgh just hours after he formally took power, Starmer said his new Government would see "what steps we can now take" to protect the future of the complex.

Ed Miliband, the new Secretary of State for Energy, held "detailed discussions" with Anas Sarwar over the future of Grangemouth during a phonecall on Sunday morning.

Speaking with journalists about his priorities for Government, Starmer said: "We will also start, more immediately, with discussions about Grangemouth, which is obviously a source of great concern to me, in terms of what steps we can now take to preserve jobs and ensure the future."

Pressed for more detail, he added: "You will understand I am very concerned about the situation at Grangemouth, I'm now the Prime Minister, it's my duty to do what I can to ensure jobs are preserved, and the future is good, as I'm sure it can be.

"I won't get into details, but it is a real priority for me to work on that".

Refinery owners Petroineos announced in November last year the site would "soon be unable to compete effectively" with overseas rivals.

The company - a joint venture between Ineos and the Chinese state-owned PetroChina - signalled refining could end as soon as April 2025, but a final closure date has not been confirmed.

Petroineos also revealed plans to transition the site to become an oil import terminal. Such a move could protect around 100 of the 500 jobs directly employed by the refinery.

It would mean North Sea oil would be transported abroad for refining before being shipped back to Scotland as diesel and jet fuel.

The wider Grangemouth site, which includes a petrochemical plant, would be unaffected by the transition.

The oil refinery at Grangemouth could close by spring 2025
The oil refinery at Grangemouth could close by spring 2025 -Credit:Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Unite, one of two trade unions representing workers at the complex, has been campaigning to draw political attention to Grangemouth's future.

Derek Thomson, Unite Scottish Secretary, said the refinery was "one of Scotland’s most important worksites" and described it as "absolutely pivotal to Scotland’s energy security and our manufacturing base".

Grangemouth is one of just six oil refineries in Britain and supplies two-thirds of the petrol and diesel for forecourts in Scotland as well as large volumes for the north of England and Northern Ireland.

Starmer made the comments shortly before he visited Bute House for his first face-to-face meeting with First Minister John Swinney.

The Prime Minister said he would use his talks with the SNP leader to “set the framework within which we can work, I think, better for Scotland, more respectfully for Scotland”.

With Labour set to take on the SNP again in 2026 in the Scottish elections, Starmer insisted he would follow his “country first, party second” mantra in talks with Mr Swinney.

The PM told reporters: “I am going to see the First Minister and I intend to reset the relationship between the Westminster government and the Scottish Government.

“And the reason for that is because I’ve got a mandate to deliver for Scotland and I take that really seriously.

“I think it should always be country first, party second. I said that when I was campaigning, I mean it in government and I therefore want a government of service.”

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