Keir Starmer faces meltdown over Labour's Net Zero plans

Labour’s green meltdown: Keir Starmer scrambles to hold party together as union paymasters demand he drops radical Net Zero plans to save jobs – but activists warn he must go ahead

Keir Starmer is facing a green meltdown today with Labour plunged into infighting over multi-billion-pound Net Zero plans.

Sir Keir is in Somerset backing nuclear energy this morning, ahead of laying out wider policies in Scotland next week.

But he is already struggling to contain anger about proposal to ban new North Sea oil projects, and borrow £28billion a year for a ‘Green Prosperity Plan’.

Unions have raised alarm that the moves could hammer the economy and cost skilled jobs. 

The GMB, one of Labour’s biggest union backers, slammed plans to limit oil and gas production as ‘naive’. 

Sharon Graham, of the Unite union, which represents oil rig workers, warned the impact could be similar to the closure of coal mines in the 1980s. 

Sir Keir is also under pressure from environmental groups to stick to the radical policy platform, masterminded by shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband. 

Groups including the Countryside Charity and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have issued a statement to the Guardian saying: ‘We urge you to stand firm on Labour’s policy of no new oil and gas developments and its significant investment in well-planned, nature-positive renewables and energy efficiency.’ 

Sir Keir Starmer (pictured in Scotland last month) faces a mounting revolt over his multi-billion-pound Net Zero plans

Sir Keir is due to unveil his long-awaited net zero strategy in a speech in Scotland this month, and is expected to include a pledge that any borrowing for investment should be limited to green schemes.

He will visit a nuclear plant in Somerset on Monday as he steps up his party’s commitment to improving Britain’s energy security and moving to low-carbon sources of power to tackle climate change.

But the Labour leader is facing growing unease over the cost and impact of the plans. GMB general secretary Gary Smith told Sky News: ‘Their policies are going to create a cliff edge with oil and gas extraction from the North Sea.’

Unite chief Ms Graham said: ‘Labour must now be very clear that they will not let workers pay the price for the transition to renewable energy.’

Offshore Energies UK, which represents major oil companies, said Labour’s plan to block all new developments in North Sea could lead to 45,000 job losses and a 60 per cent drop in domestic production. Chief executive David Whitehouse told The Daily Telegraph: ‘If this policy is enacted, we will become increasingly reliant on imported energy.

‘That would have a number of impacts. It would undermine the UK energy security, it would undermine those 200,000 jobs that we see across the country, it would make the country poorer.’

Labour MPs say the party’s focus on net zero could harm their electoral chances in parts of the country. 

A shadow cabinet minister said: ‘Voters care more about jobs than green stuff.’ 

One Labour MP told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It’s all middle class b*****ks. We won’t reach our targets for converting to electric cars and we may end up simply importing fossil fuels from abroad.’

Members of Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s top team are also believed to have raised concerns privately about the impact on jobs in regions where many oil workers live.

It has emerged that green energy pioneer and Just Stop Oil backer Dale Vince donated £1.5million to Labour in the past decade. Sir Keir has always denied that the money has influenced party policy.

Sharon Graham, (pictured last December) of the Unite union, which represents oil rig workers, warned that Labour’s plan could have the same impact as the closure of coal mines in the 1980s

Energy security secretary Grant Shapps said Labour’s plans would aid Russia, a key supplier of oil to Europe

But energy security secretary Grant Shapps said Labour’s plans would aid Russia, a key supplier of oil to Europe. He added: ‘Starmer’s energy policy has been authored by the Just Stop Oil eco-zealots who are bankrolling the Labour Party.’

Concerns have been raised that borrowing required to fund Labour’s multi-billion-pound schemes would exacerbate inflationary pressures, requiring the Bank of England to raise interest rates by 0.75 percentage points.

Union boss Mr Smith criticised Labour for ‘just focusing on what they think is popular rather than doing the proper thinking to understand what is right for the country’, adding: ‘When it comes to oil and gas, quite simply I think Labour are being naive – they have got it wrong.’

More than 100 groups, including the Women’s Institute, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, on Monday night urged Sir Keir not to ditch his plan to ban new North Sea projects.

Sir Keir accused the Conservatives of a ‘shambolic’ failure to open any new nuclear plants during 13 years of power.

But a Tory party spokesman hit back, saying: ‘In 1997, the Labour Party cut the legs off Britain’s nuclear industry declaring ‘no new nuclear’, nationalising British Energy and handing our energy dependency to China and France.’

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