LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer has set out a “patriotic” vision of what his party would represent and offer if they entered government.

In a keynote speech to local politicians in Birmingham, Starmer repeatedly emphasised that Labour is a “patriotic party” while standing in front of a large Union flag.

He set out plans for a “contract” with the British people on how Labour would govern, including a focus on crime prevention, new drugs powers for the police, and a long-term plan for the NHS. He stressed he was not in favour of changing the drugs laws or moving towards decriminalisation.

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He accused Boris Johnson’s government of risking the unity of the UK, telling the audience: “The UK is a unique construct of four distinct national identities. It is complex and it can easily be exploited for political gain, as we have seen in Northern Ireland – the Government is playing fast and loose with the peace agreement as the price of getting Brexit done.

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“And a reckless Government in Westminster that does not seem to care about what happens in Scotland erodes people’s faith in our common bonds.”

He suggested that the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year, and Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, could be an opportunity to show Britain is a “tolerant nation” – claiming that this had been achieved when England reached the final of the Euros last summer.

“The England team is a living embodiment of a successful nation – young men of many backgrounds united by their talent and their patriotic pride. I want to lead a government that does right by them,” he said.

Starmer said he will hold a series of events across the country “in the coming months” to “persuade people to sign up” to his vision of a “new Britain”.

The Labour leader also took time in his speech to explain that he wants his party to “celebrate” Britain, rather than criticise it.

He added: “Think of all that the British have to be proud of: the rule of law, Her Majesty the Queen, universal public services, a creative heritage that is the envy of the world.

“And a thriving civil society on which we have relied so heavily during the pandemic.”

Later, Starmer said he is “very proud” to stand in front of the Union flag.

As he was answering questions after his speech, he said: “I’ve done it many times before, including when I was director of public prosecutions representing our country 10 years ago.

“So, I’ve always been very proud to do so.”

He added: “It’s not just the flag that drives our patriotism. As I said in the speech, it’s really the values that lie behind that.

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“The values I’ve outlined today of security and prosperity and respect. They’re the three values that lie behind patriotism as far as I’m concerned.”

Starmer also took time to criticise Boris Johnson during the appearance, referring to reports of Downing Street parties which dominated the headlines last month.

“We have a Prime Minister who thinks the rules apply to anyone but him,” he told listeners.

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“Just when trust in Government has become a matter of life and death, for the Prime Minister it has become a matter of what he can get away with.

“I have heard so many heartbreaking stories of people who missed family funerals because they were abiding by the rules. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister was at a cheese and wine party in Downing Street.”