Labor leader Keir Starmer promises ‘the biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British people’.
Britain’s opposition Labor Party has pledged to scrap the unelected and ‘indefensible’ House of Lords as part of a constitutional overhaul to redistribute post-Brexit economic growth.
Labor looks set to seize power in the next election, scheduled for January 2025, placing it well ahead of the ruling Conservatives in opinion polls after a tumultuous period politically and economically.
Labor leader Keir Starmer on Monday promised “the biggest ever transfer of power from [the UK parliament in] Westminster to the British people,” arguing that many voters chose to leave the European Union in 2016 because of a sense of lack of democratic control.
The party’s blueprint for reform, drawn up by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, envisages a new devolution to Britain’s regions and countries, including Scotland, where the Nationalist government is pushing for a new independence referendum.
Brown, who led the successful 2014 campaign to get his compatriots into the UK, proposed greater devolution, including the Parliament of Edinburgh in international agreements involving Scottish territories.
Addressing an audience in Leeds, northern England, Starmer said a “failure of economic growth over the past 12 years” under Conservative rule was partly caused by the UK’s inability to drive growth as a whole, too dependent on London and South East England.
The blueprint is not yet a labor policy. It will now go to public consultation, with agreed changes to be included in the party’s next election manifesto.
Starmer said he hoped to implement final reforms within the first five years of a Labor government, possibly including the redeployment of 50,000 civil service jobs from London.
By addressing widespread public outcry over alleged malpractice in parliament, the proposals would restrict MPs from working second jobs and create a new anti-corruption commissioner.
The centerpiece of the 40-point plan is to do away with the upper house of parliament in its current guise – a mixture of political appointees, hereditary peers and Church of England bishops.
“I think the House of Lords is indefensible. Anyone looking at the House of Lords would be hard pressed to say it should be kept,” Starmer told BBC television.
“So we want to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected chamber with a very strong mission.”
Brown proposed a new assembly made up of members from the regions and countries of the UK – a “smaller, more representative and democratic” chamber, though details will be left to consultation.