Prime Minister and Scottish First Minister held ‘constructive’ talks on economy

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has said he discussed a “constructive” working relationship on the economy, energy and future of the Grangemouth refinery in his first official visit with Scotland’s First Minister John Swinney.

Sir Keir travelled to Edinburgh as his part of his first tour of the four UK nations since taking on the top job on Friday.

Speaking after his meeting with Mr Swinney at Bute House, the Prime Minister said he aimed to “make good” on his campaign commitment to “reset” the relationship between the Scottish and UK Governments.

He told broadcasters the economy and energy were high on the agenda as the two leaders met but accepted there were “clearly differences of opinion” on the constitutional issue of Scottish independence.

But Sir Keir said: “The point of this meeting was to reset the relationship in a respectful way, in a constructive way, and to recognise that on the economy, energy and very pressingly on Grangemouth, there is room for us to have a constructive way of delivering for very many people across Scotland.”

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather as the convoy carrying Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer leaves Bute House in Edinburgh
Pro-Palestinian protesters gather as the convoy carrying Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer leaves Bute House in Edinburgh following his meeting with First Minister of Scotland John Swinney (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He added the pair had a “joint view” of working constructively, adding: “I am absolutely clear that during the campaign I made a commitment that my Labour Government would deliver for Scotland.

“That’s why I’m back here making good on that commitment, that promise, and starting the work of change across Scotland with the First Minister and deputy First Minister (Kate Forbes).”

The Prime Minister’s visit did not go as planned as pro-Palestinian protesters lined the streets outside Bute House in anticipation of his arrival.

However, once inside the two were pictured chatting and smiling as they met for the first time in their official capacities.

Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes and Scottish Secretary Ian Murray also joined the discussions on the economy and net zero.

Mr Swinney said: “I was pleased to welcome Sir Keir to Bute House so soon after his appointment as UK Prime Minister.

“We continued our conversation about areas of shared interest. I believe there is an opportunity for collaborative working that can make a difference to people’s lives and I hope to work with Sir Keir’s new government to deliver progress for the benefit of people in Scotland.

“Following our talks, I am confident we have established the foundation for a productive relationship between our two governments based on renewed respect for the devolution settlement.

“On a personal note, having been First Minister for two months and a minister for many years, I am very aware of the demands of office. I again offered Sir Keir and his family my congratulations on his appointment and my best wishes for what will be a demanding start to his term in office.”