Keir Starmer promises to bring hope to an ‘exhausted’ Britain

Keir Starmer will pledge to bring hope to an “exhausted” Britain as he seeks to draw lines with Rishi Sunak – and his own party's Jeremy Corbyn era – ahead of the general election.

In a speech likely to be seen as firing the gun on Labour's long campaign, he will say his is no longer a party of “political gestures” and accuse the prime minister of “pointless populist” ploys.

Amid warnings that disgruntled voters could sit on their hands this time, the Labor leader will describe the UK as a nation “exhausted” by “sex scandals, expense scandals, waste scandals, contracts for friends'.

But he will pledge to change Britain, adding: “Whether you are thinking of voting Labor for the first time, have always voted Labour, or have no intention of voting Labour: my party will serve you.

“This is who we are now, a changed Labor Party. It is no longer exciting for political gestures, no longer a party of protest, but a party of service.”

Sir Keir will make his stall on a visit to the west of England at the same time as the Tory leader gives a rival New Year's address in the East Midlands. It comes as opposition parties are mounting pressure on Mr Sunak to call an election in the spring. With the Tories trailing Labor in the polls, the prime minister will be hoping to close the gap before deciding to call a vote. But Tory MPs are increasingly low after a series of announcements towards the end of last year failed to convert the electorate.

In his address to voters, Sir Keir will say he understands why people have turned against politicians, following scandals such as Partygate and the rise in cross-party political attacks.

The Labor leader will hit out at Mr Sunak's bid last year to emerge as the “candidate for change” at the election, despite 13 years of Tory rule.

Keir Starmer: ‘Fighting Friendship'

(PA Wire)

“They can't change Britain, so they're trying to undermine the possibility of change itself,” he will say, as he urged voters to reject the “pointless populist gestures and arbitrary cynicism that the Tories think is all you're worth”. .

He will promise to “clean politics” of dirty work, adding: “No more VIP fast lanes, no more kickbacks to colleagues, no more revolving doors between government and the companies they regulate.

“I will restore standards in public life by a total suppression of friendship: that ends now.”

The opposition leader will also seek jail terms of more than a decade for those defrauding the government, saying he helped send Labor and Tory “political expenses cheats” to jail in the wake of the 2009 expenses scandal while he was director of prosecution. .

Assuring voters he offers a fresh start as the Conservatives step up efforts to link him to Mr Corbyn, he will tell the public that “the opportunity to shape the future of our country is in your hands”.

He will also attack former Tory prime ministers Boris Johnson and David Cameron, saying politics is not a “hobby” for people who “enjoy the feeling of power”.