Labour’s leader is accusing the Government of “pouring petrol on the fire” over its handling of the rail dispute.

Sir Kier Starmer will make a speech criticising the Conservatives for their “lack of action” to avert next week’s strikes.

He will tell the Labour local government association conference in Warwick that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps want the strikes to go ahead next Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Sir Keir is expected to say: “Businesses will struggle with freight. School exams will be hard to get to. Hospital appointments missed. That’s why I have said the strikes should not go ahead.

“But here’s the truth, Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps want the strikes to go ahead.

“They want the country to grind to a halt so they can feed off the division.

“Instead of spending their time this week around the negotiating table, they are designing attack ads.

“Instead of grown-up conversations to take the heat out of the situation, they are pouring petrol on the fire.

“Instead of bringing people together in the national interest, they are stoking division in their political interest.

Sir Keir will add that the Government “could not be more different” to the Labour Party.

“Labour seeks common endeavour for common cause. Partnership to bring people together, to solve problems and grasp opportunities.”

Union chiefs confirmed on Saturday that the strikes will be going ahead, after talks failed to resolve the ongoing bitter row over pay, jobs and conditions.


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“It has to be restated that the source of these disputes is the decision by the Tory Government to cut £4bn of funding from our transport systems – £2bn from national rail and £2bn from Transport for London," said Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers' union.

“As a result of this transport austerity imposed by the Government, the employing companies have taken decisions to savage the Railway Pension Scheme and the Transport for London scheme, cutting benefits, making staff work longer, and poorer in retirement, while paying increased contributions.

“We want a transport system that operates for the benefit of the people, for the needs of society and our environment – not for private profit.

“We call on the entire labour movement and working people to rally to the support of the RMT and our members in this struggle.”

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