Sir Keir Starmer has warned that the arrival of a new Conservative Prime Minister on Tuesday is not a “new dawn”, as he made a fresh pitch to voters to back Labour.
The Labour leader used a piece in the Sunday Telegraph to say he backs “common-sense, practical solutions over ideological purity” as the UK heads towards a long and difficult winter.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is widely tipped to defeat Rishi Sunak on Monday, taking charge in Downing Street the following day amid soaring energy bills and a worsening cost-of-living crisis.
Sir Keir writes: “The appointment of a fourth Tory prime minister in 12 years is no new dawn for Britain.
“As summer turns to autumn, the shadows of crisis are lengthening, looming over the whole country.
“There is no sign that either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss have grasped the scale of what is facing us, let alone possesses the answers to it.”
Sir Keir, who warns that the “centre is not holding” and that things are “falling apart”, stresses his own pragmatism and desire for progress on energy bills, the NHS and crime.
He writes: “I came to politics after a long career. That makes me impatient.
“It also means I favour common-sense, practical solutions over ideological purity. If I were stepping into Downing Street this week, I’d ensure no-one would pay a penny more for their energy bill this winter.”
Labour is proposing a six-month freeze on energy bills at the current £1,971 price cap, funded in part by expanding the windfall tax on oil and gas profits.
“The crisis facing Britain feels different because, this time, we are truly all in it together.
“It is a crisis of the energy we all need; the health service we all depend upon; the neighbourhoods we all share. The incoming prime minister has to get to grips with them or we will all lose out,” he writes.
Sir Keir, who this week turned 60, had earlier told the Mirror that he would use his forthcoming conference speech to set out Labour’s “road map, our plan for Britain and how Labour will give Britain the fresh start it needs”.
He promised plans that include “fixing the short-term problems like the cost-of-living crisis, the National Health crisis and the law and order crisis”, while also looking ahead to rebuilding the economy and tackling the climate crisis.
It comes as Labour shadow health secretary Wes Streeting accused the Conservatives of intentionally trying to lose the next general election.
Mr Streeting, in a lengthy interview with the Telegraph, said that he is confident Labour is going to win the next general election and predicted that the Tories will intentionally try to lose.
Mr Streeting, 39, seen as a potential future leader of the party, told the Telegraph: “I think the Conservatives are planning to lose the next general election.”
According to the newspaper, he points to the decision by the current Government to cap the number of medical students as evidence for his claim.
The Conservatives have “concluded there’s no point recruiting medicine trainees because they’re not going to come into work until there’s a Labour government in place. I think that’s recklessly short-sighted”, he is quoted as saying.
“I don’t know what other explanation there is. For them to turn away bright young people from university places they desperately want to take up. That is threatening the future pipeline. We should be developing our homegrown talent for the NHS.”
Only last month Education Secretary James Cleverly defended the Government’s refusal to lift the cap on medical student admissions this year and insisted it was increasing NHS recruitment.
Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Streeting hit out at Tory plans for the NHS as he indicated that extra funding for the health service would have to come with some kind of reform.
“There’s no doubt in my mind – and this is why Liz Truss is being dishonest with the public – that there isn’t a fix to the NHS crisis that doesn’t involve more investment,” he told the paper.
“This is a bit more difficult for a Labour audience to hear, there isn’t a fix for the NHS in the long term that can involve huge amounts of extra money every year. Because at that point, the NHS begins to look unsustainable. We can’t just keep on pouring in more money.”
Discussing his own successful treatment for kidney cancer, he said: “We can’t let our reverence [for the NHS] prevent us from making the changes that are needed to make it fit for the 21st century.”
“With the best will in the world, there are always producer interests that creep in and I will have no truck with producer interest.
“There will always be people in the system who say, ‘But that’s not how we do things’.
“I want to work with the system rather than to fight the system. But, ultimately I’ll always do what’s in the best interest of patients.”