KEIR Starmer is set to scrap his party’s commitment to free university tuition, according to a report.

Labour’s previous two General Election manifestos have promised to abolish tuition fees in England. 

During Starmer’s leadership campaign in 2020, he pledged to retain the policy although this is to now be reversed, according to The Times.

A senior party source told the newspaper: “At a time when we’re being so careful about spending commitments, it’s a glaring anomaly that we still haven’t moved on tuition fees.

“It’s one of the remaining commitments from 2019 that we will be clear we have moved on from.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Starmer appeared to confirm the report.

He said: “We are likely to move on from that commitment, because we do find ourselves in a different financial situation.

“We are looking at options for how to fund these fees. The current system is unfair, it doesn’t really work for students, doesn’t work for universities.”

He added that the party would “set out a fairer solution” in the coming weeks and that he did not want the U-turn to be “read as us accepting for a moment that the current system is fair or that it is working”.

Earlier in the year, the Labour leader insisted that the 10 pledges which formed the basis of his leadership bid “haven’t all been abandoned by any stretch of the imagination”.

However, in January, he told The Times: “University tuition fees are not working well. They burden young people going forward.

“Obviously we have got a number of propositions in relation to those fees that we will put forward as we go into the election.

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“But I have to be honest about it, the damage that has been done to our economy means that we are going to have to cost everything as we go into that election and we will do that with discipline.”

Scotland's response

University tuition is free in Scotland while students in England pay up to £9250 a year while those in Wales pay up to £9000.

The SNP’s education spokesperson Carol Monaghan said that this showed “no one can trust a word Keir Starmer says”.

“The Labour Party is looking more and more like a Tory tribute band as Keir Starmer lurches them even further to the right by ditching another one of his key election pledges.

“Pro-Brexit Labour do not want to re-joining the European Union, no matter the economic consequences to Scotland.”

She also accused Starmer of already ditching his pledge to tax the highest earners in society and that he was “writing a manifesto straight from the Tory playbook”.

Monaghan also underlined the SNP’s continued commitment to providing free tuition to those across Scotland.

Pete Wishart echoed his colleague’s thoughts on Twitter, saying there is nothing about Labour “that distinguishes them from the Tories”.

Many took to social media to criticise the Labour leader. The SNP’s policy development convener Toni Giugliano told The National: “Another flagship Labour policy in the bin. Starmer and Sunak should consider a merger.

“Labour are moving so far to the right they are indistinguishable from the Tories. But there’s also a question of integrity for Starmer – who is flip-flopping on every issue under the sun. 

“Labour can’t even commit to delivering the public services we’ve enjoyed in Scotland for years – like free tuition. 

“It’s clear that only the SNP is standing firm on progressive policies – and only the SNP can be trusted to deliver them.”

The Alba Party’s general secretary Christopher McEleny said the news was proof that the next General Election is a choice between “actual Tories” and “pretend Tories”.

The Conservative Party also hit out at Starmer with party chairman Greg Hands saying: “Everyone is getting back to work after the Bank Holiday weekend and Sir Keir is back to what he does best – flip flopping on a major issue.”