Labour set to abolish the House of Lords and devolve more power to the regions, in radical constitutional shake-up

Labour have today unveiled a radical overhaul of the UK’s existing constitutional settlement, including abolishing the House of Lords and devolving more power to the regions and nations.


The Labour Leader, Sir Kier Starmer pledged to deliver “the biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British people,” backing more rights and responsibilities for the country’s nations and regions.


Promising the British people “the change they deserve”, the Labour leader said: “the centre hasn’t delivered. We have an unbalanced economy which makes too little use of the talents of too few people in too few places. We will have higher standards in public life, a wider spread of power and opportunity, and better economic growth that benefits everyone, wherever they are. By setting our sights higher, wider, better, we can build a better future together.”


Speaking at the release of a report on the UK’s Future, writtenby the former PM, Gordon Brown, Sir Keir said: “We have an unbalanced economy. One which makes too little use of the talents of too few people in too few places. And which the Tories have dragged into a vicious cycle of low growth and high taxes.


“Faced with this narrow path of stagnation, is it any surprise that people up and down the country are crying out for a new approach?”


And it an attempt to settle the issue of Labour’s position on Brexit, he commented: “…I argued for remain. But I couldn’t disagree with the basic case that lots of leave voters made to me. They wanted more control over their lives, more control over their country. They wanted to create opportunities for the next generation – build communities they felt proud of, have public services they could rely on…


“That’s why I asked Gordon Brown and the Commission to carry out a report on the future of the UK. I asked them to put together proposals for the biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British people.


“So that if Labour wins the next election – Britain will see a change not just in who governs, but how we are governed.The tools to a fairer society and a stronger economy placed directly in the hands of working people. So together we can build an economy not just for the many, but by the many and of the many.


“Re-distribution is a good thing but it’s not a one-word plan for a fair society or a strong economy. By empowering our towns, cities, regions and nations to work together on local growth plans, Labour will reignite our economy.


“New powers over skills, transport, planning and culture, all helping to drive growth by developing hundreds of clusters of economic activity.”


The Labour Leader also used a round of media interviews to repeat his new tough tone on Brexit. Asked if being part of the single market would boost economic growth, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No at this stage, I don’t think it would. And there’s no case for going back to the EU or going back into the single market.”


Sir Keir added: “Do I think, just to take your question head on, that going back into years of wrangling, years of uncertainty, is going to help our economy? No, I don’t.”


The report’s 40 recommendations include devolving more power to local communities on skills, transport, planning and culture to drive growth, which it argues will create hundreds of “clusters” of economic activity in cities and towns across all regions and nations of the United Kingdom and drive growth.


As part of this it recommends moving some 50,000 civil service jobs out of London to the regions.


The report argues that the continuing over-concentration of power in Westminster and Whitehall has created a ‘vicious circle … the more we lag behind economically the more people feel abandoned by an unresponsive system of government.’ It includes polling showing how too many people feel ‘invisible’ in their own country and details how Britain also has the sharpest inequalities and the slowest growth.


Among other radical proposals, the report recommends the abolition of the House of Lords, replacing it with a 200-strong elected alternative called the Assembly of Nations and Regions.


However, despite the warm words and praise for the report and the Commission that produced it, Sir Keir seemed torefuse to say whether or not he will adopt all, of the recommendations and how quickly they would be brought intelling the Today programme: “Obviously after today we’re going to have a consultation about implementing the recommendations in the report.


“I want the discussion about implementation to take place before the election so that we can get on at the election and put into place the recommendations.


“Exactly what happens when is part of the discussion about implementation.”


We have asked the Conservative Party for a response and will update this article once it is received.

Alistair Thompson

Alistair Thompson is the Director of Team Britannia PR and a journalist.