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UK’s next prime minister Sir Keir Starmer says ‘change begins now’

05 Jul 2024 5 minute read
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to supporters at the Tate Modern, central London, at a watch party for the results of the 2024 General Election. Photo Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Sir Keir Starmer said the UK was again experiencing the “sunlight of hope” after a Labour landslide put him on course to be the next prime minister.

Tory leader Rishi Sunak conceded defeat after a “sobering” night for his party which saw a record eight Cabinet minister lose their seats.

At a victory rally in central London, Sir Keir said the country could now “get its future back”.

He told jubilant activists “we did it”, adding: “Change begins now.”

Sir Keir said: “We did it. You campaigned for it, you fought for it, you voted for it, and now it has arrived – change begins now.

“It feels good, I have to be honest. Four-and-a-half years of work changing the party, this is what it is for – a changed Labour Party ready to serve our country, ready to restore Britain to the service of working people.

“And across our country, people will be waking up to the news, relief that a weight has been lifted, a burden finally removed from the shoulders of this great nation.

“And now we can look forward, walk into the morning, the sunlight of hope, pale at first but getting stronger through the day, shining once again, on a country with the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back.”

Conceded defeat

The Labour leader’s speech at the Tate Modern art gallery came shortly after Rishi Sunak publicly conceded defeat.

At his acceptance speech after being re-elected in Richmond and Northallerton, Mr Sunak said: “The Labour Party has won this General Election and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory.”

Mr Sunak added: ““The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight, there is much to learn… and I take responsibility for the loss.”

On a dramatic night:

– Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and veterans minister Johnny Mercer lost to Labour.

– Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk, Science Secretary Michelle Donelan and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer lost to Liberal Democrats.

– Chief whip Simon Hart lost to Plaid Cymru.

– Tory deputy chairman Jonathan Gullis and former cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg were beaten by Labour.

– But party chairman Richard Holden won by just 20 votes in Basildon and Billericay.

– Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held on to his seat as an independent.

– Reform UK leader Nigel Farage won a Commons seat at his eighth attempt and promised his party would “stun all of you”.

– Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer defeated shadow culture secretary Thangam Debbonaire in Bristol Central.

– Labour’s shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth, who played a prominent role in the party’s media campaign, lost his seat to an independent.

Labour has passed the 326 Commons seats needed for victory and is expected to win by a landslide.

Infighting

The result is likely to trigger a fresh round of infighting within the Tory party as MPs scramble to replace Mr Sunak, who is expected to resign in the wake of the defeat.

Mr Shapps was the first confirmed Cabinet casualty and he hit out at the Tory “soap opera” which had turned off voters.

“On door after door, voters have been dismayed by our inability to iron out our differences in private and do that and then be united in public,” he said.

“Instead we have tried the patience of traditional Conservative voters with a propensity to create an endless political soap opera out of internal rivalries and divisions which have become increasingly indulgent and entrenched.”

He said there was a danger the Tory party could “go off on some tangent, condemning ourselves to years of lacklustre opposition”.

‘Battering’

Ms Mordaunt, who is likely to have been a leadership contender if she had survived, said her party had taken a “battering because it failed to honour the trust that people had placed in it”.

She too warned against a retreat to the right: “Our renewal as a party and a country will not be achieved by us talking to an ever smaller slice of ourselves but being guided by the people of our country. And if we want again to be the natural party of government, then our values must be the people’s.

Former home secretary Suella Braverman, who will now be considered a leading contender to replace Mr Suank, said the party had let the British people down.

“You, the great British people, voted for us over 14 years and we did not keep our promises,” she said.

“I will do everything in my power to rebuild trust.

“We need to listen to you, you have spoken to us very clearly.”

Reform won four seats, with Mr Farage joined by former Tory Lee Anderson, party chairman Richard Tice and former Southampton FC chairman Rupert Lowe in being elected to Parliament.

Clacton

After winning in Clacton, Mr Farage said there was now a “massive gap on the centre-right of British politics and my job is to fill it”.

But he added it is not just the Tories he is taking on, and “we’re coming for Labour, be in no doubt about that”.

“This is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you,” he said.

In Wales, the Tories were wiped out, while in Scotland Labour were rampant.

First Minister John Swinney told the PA news agency: “We’ve got to face up to the realities of the situation that we are in and we’ve got to build the trust and the confidence of the public in Scotland.”


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Meg
Meg
9 days ago

Congratulations to the Not The Tories party on scoring their open goal.
On the one hand I am ecstatic that Tory MPs in Wales are now extinct, but the Not The Tories party is no inspiring thing. They’re just a centre right party. So this is just another right wing government. Congrats to Plaid and the LDs for their gains and thank you to the electorate for NOT going collectively insane and voting for the NF Reform clowns

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
9 days ago

To almost quote Ron Davies. ‘Good morning and it is a very good morning here in Tory free Wales’. New battles start here but at least we’ll be able to say ‘TORIES! BE TOLD! WE DO NOT WANT YOU HERE!

Karl
Karl
9 days ago

Tory reds win, nothing to celebrate. The top 3 parties on vote in Cymru mirror skip and vrecit party policies in many ways. No progress will happen under Starmer

Riki
Riki
9 days ago

Welsh voters truly have no understanding of what’s damaging our country. Stop voting for English parties!!!

Sneb yn gwbod.
Sneb yn gwbod.
9 days ago
Reply to  Riki

It’s called democracy.

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