Keir Starmer vowed to “stop the Nationalists ripping our country apart” as he pledged to lead a Labour Party that would defend and invest in every part of the UK.
In his first conference speech as leader, Sir Keir told his colleagues that the party needs to “make the case much more persuasively” to Scots that the UK “achieves more together than we do alone”.
The London MP also blasted Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and Brexit and accused the prime minister of “dismantling” the Union by “neglect”.
He said: “I don’t want to win power just to be prime minister. I want to win because of the country I love and because of the values I hold dear.
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“When you win, you come out of the shadows. You change lives. You make a difference to your country.
“To do that, we must once again be the party of the whole United Kingdom. The party of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“We must make the case much more persuasively that we achieve more together than we do alone.
“To stop the Nationalists ripping our country apart by design and to stop the Tories dismantling it by neglect.”
Sir Keir went on to argue that the “incompetence” of Mr Johnson’s Government is “holding Britain back”.
The Labour leader told the virtual party conference he wants to build a nation “in which we put family first”, adding: “I think Britain has so much yet to achieve. And it angers me that this Government is holding us back.
“I’ve tried to be constructive. I appreciate that these are unprecedented times and that governing is difficult. I’ve tried to be fair, to give the Government the benefit of the doubt.
“But now, with one of the highest death rates in the world, and on the threshold of one of the deepest recessions anywhere, I’m afraid there is no doubt.
“This Government’s incompetence is holding Britain back.”
Signalling a clear break with the Jeremy Corbyn era, he added: “When you lose an election in a democracy, you deserve to. The Labour Party has lost four general elections in a row. We’ve granted the Tories a decade of power.
“It’s a betrayal of what we believe in to let this go on. It’s time to get serious about winning.”
He added: “Never again will Labour go into an election not being trusted on national security, with your job, with your community and with your money.
“That’s what being under new leadership means.”