Sir Keir Starmer promises 'serious plan for Government' in headline conference speech interrupted by heckles

Sir Keir Starmer has promised Labour will hold "a serious plan for Government" as he laid out his plan to take the party back to Downing Street.

Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers his keynote speech at the Labour Party conference in Brighton. (PA)

The opposition leader pledged to improve mental health care and overhaul the curriculum to include digital skills, and focussed on climate crisis and employment, in the keynote address to his party’s annual conference.

Closing the Brighton event - the first since he was elected as party leader almost 18 months ago - Sir Keir also took a swipe at Prime Minister Boris Johnson, labelling him “a showman with nothing left to show”, with a Government that “can’t keep the fuel flowing” or supermarket shelves stocked.

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However, the former Director of Public Prosecutions faced heckles from the audience throughout his speech, including as he recounted a personal story of his mother’s treatment in intensive care.

Attendees on the conference floor shouted about a £15 minimum wage, held up red cards, and Brexit among other issues, however they were drowned out by applause on the occasions that Sir Keir batted the chants away.

The Labour leader described “family and work” as “the two rocks of my life – the two sources of what I believe to be right and good”, highlighting his background as the son of a toolmaker and an NHS nurse who later needed long-term care.

Sir Keir promised members that Labour could win the next General Election, less than two years after their most catastrophic loss in more than 80 years, in the 90-minute long address which also recognised Labour’s failure under Jeremy Corbyn to defeat the Tories in 2019.

Praising the party activists who had saved Labour from “obliteration” in the landslide defeat in 2019, Sir Keir said: “I can see the ways in which we can remake this nation and that’s what we get to do when we win."

“Yet, in a way, the more we expose the inadequacy of this Government the more it presses the question back on us.

“If they are so bad, what does it say about us? Because after all in 2019 we lost to them, and we lost badly. I know that hurts each and every one of you.

“So, let’s get totally serious about this – we can win the next general election.

“This Government can’t keep the fuel flowing, it can’t keep the shelves stocked, and you’ve seen what Boris Johnson does when he wants more money – he goes straight for the wallets of working people.

“Labour is the party that is on the side of working people.”

One of the loudest cheers of the speech came as Sir Keir recounted policies and improvements implemented during the New Labour Blair and Brown years.

As the crowd stood to applause improvements in healthcare, social mobility and poverty reduction, he said: “You want levelling up? That’s levelling up.”

Sir Keir also laid out the contrast between himself and the Prime Minister, saying that Mr Johnson's "assumption that the rules don't apply to him" is something that "offends everything I stand for".

He referred to the actions of former No 10 aide Dominic Cummings and then health secretary Matt Hancock during the lockdown, and added: “When I got pinged, I isolated. When Boris Johnson got pinged, he tried to ignore it. That’s not how I do business.”