Sir Keir Starmer has vowed that Wales would “take back control” of its economy under a Labour government and accused the Tories of using Brexit to cut Welsh funding.

In a keynote speech, the opposition leader told the Welsh Labour conference he wanted to use the “spirit of devolution” to “transform Britain, give the communities and great nations of this country the powers they need to control their destiny”.

If Labour wins the next general election it would give power over funds that replaced EU aid to the Welsh government, he told the gathering in Llandudno.

According to the Welsh government, Westminster’s approach to replacing EU structural funds would see Wales lose around £750m over three years (2021-22 to 2023-24).

The replacement, the Shared Prosperity Fund, is controlled by the UK Government, which the Labour leader described as a “scandal” and a “disgrace”.

He accused the Tories of using Brexit “to take back control of that money not from the EU from Wales”.

Mr Starmer said: “Today I can announce that the next Labour Government will return power over its economic destiny to Wales.

“The decision-making role for the Welsh Government on structural funds will be restored it’s time for Wales to take back control.”

LLANDUDNO, WALES - MARCH 11: Labour leader Keir Starmer arrives for the Welsh Labour Party Conference at Venue Cymru on March 11, 2023 in Llandudno, Wales. The Welsh Labour Party conference returns to Llandudno with the party slogan Stronger, Fairer, Greener (Tryfach, Cecach, Gwyrddach) as they set out their policies to party members. (Photo by Jason Roberts/Getty Images)
Labour leader Keir Starmer arrives for the Welsh Labour Party Conference at Venue Cymru on March 11, 2023 in Llandudno (Photo: Jason Roberts/Getty Images)

He added: “Only Labour will unlock the pride and purpose of all our communities. Only Labour will devolve economic power and control out of Westminster.”

But he did not outline how much money would be provided to the Welsh government under the proposal.

Councils bid for the cash and plan and deliver projects, but the Conservatives say Labour has failed to make the most from the billions of pounds of EU grants received by Wales since 2000.

Decisions which create wealth in local communities should be taken by people “with skin in the game”, Mr Starmer said.

He insisted the move would “spread power and opportunity out of Westminster” and be part of a “new approach to politics and democracy everywhere in Britain”.

But he warned delegates that control of the economy and the public purse “must come first…even when it puts a break on things we might like to do in power”.

Labour would also boost investment in renewable energy such as wind and solar, as well as improving insulation for 19m homes to turn Britain into a “green growth superpower”.

Mr Starmer recently unveiled five missions to improve the nation, including securing high sustained growth and building an NHS fit for the future.

These goals would “rekindle the shared hope in every corner of the UK,” he said.

“They will raise our sights and free us from Tory poverty of ambition.”

He also pledged that under his premiership, there will be a “total overhaul of the Westminster system” that “hoards potential and a politics which hoards power”.

And he said there is an “impatience for change and national renewal” and “the British people are turning to Labour to provide it”.

The politics of restoring hope is hard as the change offered “must also be credible” and “working people have had enough of false promises”, the Labour leader said.

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