Labour Party Conference 2021: Sir Keir Starmer promises ‘Labour will be back in business’ under his leadership

Keir Starmer’s keynote speech will draw on his experience of talking to voters who have deserted Labour

Sir Keir Starmer will use his conference speech to present himself as a serious alternative to Boris Johnson and break away from the Jeremy Corbyn-era of Labour.

In the most important political speech of his career, Sir Keir will claim “Labour will be back in business”, able to grapple with the big issues facing the country, including recovering from the pandemic and tackling climate change.

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Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attends the Labour Party conference in Brighton on Tuesday (image: PA)

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At a glance: key points

  • Allies of the Labour leader said the speech will show how the party has changed since Corbyn led it to electoral disaster in 2019
  • The speech will be the biggest Starmer has delivered during a leadership tenure which has coincided with Covid restrictions preventing him from addressing large audiences
  • He will highlight the fuel crisis and the rising cost of living as evidence that Boris Johnson lacks the competence required for the role of Prime Minister, with the Government “lost in the woods”
  • And he will promise “the most ambitious school improvement plan ever” if Labour wins power, recruiting thousands of teachers and focusing on turning round struggling schools
  • He will use the speech to pledge that mental health treatment would be available within a month for all who need it under a Labour government
  • The party believes that voters in Red Wall seats, who had given Boris Johnson the benefit of the doubt, were now concerned about his competence

What will be said

In an attempt to convince voters that Labour is a credible government-in-waiting, Sir Keir will say: “Too often in the history of this party our dream of the good society falls foul of the belief that we will not run a strong economy.

“But you don’t get one without the other.

“And under my leadership we are committed to both.

“I can promise you that under my leadership Labour will be back in business.”

Sir Keir Starmer poses for a portrait on Brighton beach ahead of his first keynote speech as party Labour Party leader (image: Getty)


Starmer took over from Corbyn after the party suffered its worst result since 1935 as the Tories won a landslide victory in 2019.

The keynote address will close a conference which has seen the resignation of Andy McDonald from the shadow cabinet and a bust-up with unions and the party left over internal rule changes.

Sir Keir’s wife Victoria will be in Brighton to watch the speech, which aides said would set out some of his personal background and values.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria pictured applauding for key workers outside their home last year in London (image: Getty)

A Labour spokesman said: “We know the shine is coming off Boris Johnson, we know that we are in a situation where there are serious questions around the competency of the Government, its ability to deliver.”

Starmer’s speech will present Labour as a credible opposition versus a Government which is “strong on slogans and weak on strategy”, the spokesman added. A message from the editor:

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