Blog: Keir Starmer: Scotland’s economy was failing before Brexit – HeraldScotland

The Labour leader claimed the Scottish Government had failed to fix the ”fundamentals” needed to increase growth. 

His comments came after the SNP accused him of throwing Scotland ”under Boris Johnson’s Brexit bus.”

Sir Keir has repeatedly ruled out a return to the EU under a Labour government, insisting that when he is No 10, the UK will have a better Brexit.

However, businesses have warned the UK needs more foreign workers to increase growth.

READ MORE: Sir Keir Starmer tells business leaders: ‘We can have a better Brexit

With an election looming in the next year and keen to woo industry, Sir Keir and his Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves were north of the border for a dinner with over 150 businesses on Thursday night. 

On Friday morning they were in the Siemens plant in Cambuslang where they met with a number of apprentices. 


Speaking to journalists afterwards, the leader of the opposition said startups were failing at a greater rate in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.

“This is in Scotland which has a strong economic history, by the way.

“Most people acknowledge that it’s not just a Brexit problem, it’s been going on a lot longer than Brexit and therefore we got to fix the fundamentals.

“And last night, the plea was for stability, for respect for the institutions that are so important to stability to bring in the investment we need in Scotland.”

He said his party were “laser-focused on driving the economy forward” with a mission to have the highest sustained growth in the G7.

“For Scotland, that’ll be transformational,” he promised.

Ms Reeves said there were other ways of increasing the workforce, without needing to rely on immigration. 

“There are 500,000 Fewer people in the labour market than before the pandemic as people have retired early, people were off with ill health. The lack of availability of childcare means that so many working parents particularly mums, aren’t in work.

“And so instead of always turning to immigration, we need to make sure that people who are in Britain already are being given the support to return to work and also we need to be skilling people up.”

READ MORE: SNP leadership contest is ‘reset opportunity’ for Gender Reform law

Asked about the impact on the North East of Scotland of his commitment to remove fossil fuels from all of Britain’s electricity generation by 2030, Sir Keir said: “What’s really important about this transition is that a lot of the oil and gas companies in Scotland want to be part of that conversation with us, they are saying to us that ‘we want to do this with you, we have the ambition to do it by 2030 but it is going to be tough’.

“My approach is that some country is going to get there first, why shouldn’t it be Scotland? Why shouldn’t it be Britain?

“We have that ambition, I think Scottish businesses have that ambition, and we want to have a Labour government so that we can bring about that change, put our shoulder to the wheel and make sure that the economy in Scotland is driving forward, consistent with the history we used to have here in Scotland, not the failure we’ve had over the last 14 years or so.”

Ms Reeves said the 2030 target was about clean power. “Of course, oil and gas are going to play a role in the UK for many years to come including under a Labour government.”

“If we fail to seize the opportunities from carbon capture and from Green hydrogen, you can bet your bottom dollar that some other country whether that’s the US or Europe or Australia will do so.

“Why not Britain and why not Scotland?

“We have everything going for us apart from a government in Westminster and a government in Holyrood, that is working with business in partnership to seize those massive opportunities.”

READ MORE: Keir Starmer in Glasgow to make economy vow ahead of election

Sir Keir said there were natural resources in Scotland, “the likes of which you don’t see elsewhere in the world.”

“You’ve got offshore skills, put those together and you have an incredible opportunity, put a timeline on it, and you can achieve it.”

Speaking ahead of the visit, SNP Westminster deputy leader Mhairi Black said: “Keir Starmer is happy to throw Scotland under Boris Johnson’s Brexit bus – and as such he has zero credibility in talking about Scotland’s economy.

“Under him and Anas Sarwar, Labour is a pro-Brexit party that would do nothing to reverse the appalling damage the Tories are inflicting on Scotland having dragged us out of the EU.

“Instead Labour stand side by side with the Tories in keeping us locked outside the single market, which is seven times the size of the UK’s.

“It is clearer by the day that the only way for Scotland to flourish is by becoming an independent country and rejoining the European Union.”

Scottish Conservative finance spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “The SNP Government’s record on productivity and growth is dreadful – but there’s no reason to think Labour would do any better.

“Keir Starmer is ignoring the fact that, under Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour has consistently backed the very SNP policies that have stifled economic growth and made Scotland uncompetitive.”

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