December 11, 2023

Ed Miliband is to unveil Labour’s plan for an energy independence act, which would boost Britain’s energy independence and cut bills for families.

The party says the bill will enable a Labour government to establish a UK electricity system fully based on clean power by 2030, with the largest expansion of renewable power in Britain’s history, and establish “GB Energy”, a publicly owned energy company announced by Keir Starmer last year.

Labour sources have suggested the party would aim to include the act in the king’s speech so it could become law soon after a general election win. One source said the act showcased “modern public ownership, working with the private sector without the need to nationalise”.

In his speech on Monday, Miliband, the shadow secretary of state for energy security and net zero, will attack the Conservatives’ record on energy security, saying the UK was the most exposed economy in western Europe to the energy price spike caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He will accuse the government of being “anti-prosperity, anti-growth, anti-business, anti-worker”, telling Labour party conference: “You’re paying record energy bills because they left us exposed to Putin’s war.

“Every time they turn their back on a clean energy future, they leave us exposed to global fossil fuel markets, at the mercy of dictators and petrostates, driving up bills, making us more insecure.”

Criticising Rishi Sunak’s U-turns on net zero policies, Miliband will add: “These Tories want a fight about who can tackle the cost of living crisis, we say bring it on. These Tories want a fight about who can ensure energy independence in our country, we say bring it on.

“These Tories want a fight about who can stand up for working people, we say bring it on. The Tories’ climate culture war is not just anti-planet; it’s anti-prosperity, anti-growth, anti-business, anti-worker, anti-jobs, anti-young people, anti-future.”

Labour insiders say internal party polling suggests Keir Starmer’s plan to launch GB Energy, a publicly owned energy company run on clean UK power, is extremely popular. The Guardian understands Labour’s GB Energy proposals will feature heavily in its election campaign trail.

A Labour source said it “taps into a patriotic argument that we should take back control of our energy system”, noting that Starmer had turned the party around to be proud of its heritage.

The act would also set out a framework for the party’s national wealth fund, a new body that would invest in partnership with the private sector.

Referring to the act in his speech, Miliband will add: “Energy produced in Britain, jobs and wealth created in Britain. Taking back control of our energy system.

“In the 20th century through North Sea oil, Britain powered the world and controlled our destiny. In the 21st century, with Labour, Britain will be an energy superpower once again, exporting clean power to the world and controlling our destiny. British families and business never again held to ransom by Putin.”

The shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, will vow to speed up connections to the country’s National Grid network as part of investment in clean energy.

As Labour puts its green industrial strategy at the centre of their offer to the country, Reeves announced plans “to rewire” Britain would remove barriers to connections and “facilitate the largest upgrade to national transmission infrastructure in a generation”.

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