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Keir Starmer Takes Helm as New UK Prime Minister, Promises Change

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Keir Starmer Takes Helm as New UK Prime Minister, Promises Change
06 Jul 2024
5 min read

News Synopsis

Britain’s newly elected Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, has vowed to use his substantial electoral majority to rebuild the country and restore stability following years of political turmoil. In a speech outside Number 10 Downing Street, Starmer acknowledged the significant challenges ahead after his party’s landslide victory, which ended 14 years of Conservative rule.

A Call for Trust and Unity

Keir Starmer Addressing the Nation

Starmer emphasized the need to rebuild trust in politics, stating, “This lack of trust can only be healed by actions, not words. I know that.” He reached out to all voters, saying, “Whether you voted Labour or not, in fact, especially if you did not, I say to you directly – My government will serve you. Politics can be a force for good. We will show that.”

Celebratory Scenes at Downing Street

A Moment of Triumph

Keir Starmer was greeted by cheers and took time before making his speech to shake hands with and hug aides and well-wishers who lined Downing Street, reminiscent of Tony Blair’s arrival in government in 1997. Standing behind a lectern, he acknowledged the disillusionment many Britons felt after years of scandal and chaos under the Conservatives.

A Mandate for Change

A New Direction

Starmer declared that Britain was ready for a reset, stating, “Because no matter how fierce the storms of history, one of the great strengths of this nation has always been our ability to navigate away to calmer waters.” The centre-left Labour party won a massive majority in the 650-seat parliament, prompting Rishi Sunak’s resignation and Starmer’s meeting with King Charles to be formally named Prime Minister.

Commitment to Rebuilding Trust

A Government for All

Starmer pledged to fight every day to rebuild trust and promised a “government unburdened by doctrine,” highlighting his campaign theme of putting the country first. “To defy, quietly, those who have written our country off. You have given us a clear mandate, and we will use it to deliver change.”

Historic Election Results

Labour's Landslide Victory

The election results have significantly transformed British politics. Labour secured over 410 seats, marking an increase of 211, while the Conservative Party, known as the most successful in the western world, saw a loss of 250 MPs. This included a record number of senior ministers and the former Prime Minister, Liz Truss. The Conservative Party, led by Rishi Sunak, experienced its worst performance in history, as voters expressed their dissatisfaction with the cost of living crisis, deteriorating public services, and various scandals.

Rishi Sunak's Farewell

Acceptance of Responsibility

Rishi Sunak addressed the nation outside Downing Street, saying, “To the country I would like to say first and foremost I am sorry,” adding that he would stay as Conservative leader until the party was ready to appoint his replacement. “I have given this job my all, but you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change, and yours is the only judgment that matters. I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss.”

Challenges Ahead

Economic and Social Issues

Despite Keir Starmer's decisive victory, polls indicated there was limited enthusiasm for him or his party. Due to the quirks of Britain's first-past-the-post system and low voter turnout, Labour's win was accomplished with fewer votes than in 2017 and 2019—the latter being their worst result in 84 years.

On Friday, the pound, British stocks, and government bonds experienced slight increases, but Starmer inherits a range of significant challenges. The UK's tax burden is expected to reach its highest level since just after World War Two, net debt is nearly equal to the annual economic output, living standards have declined, and public services are struggling, particularly the National Health Service, which has been plagued by strikes.

Policy Promises and Pressures

Domestic and International Commitments

Some of Labour’s more ambitious plans, including its flagship green spending pledges, have already been scaled back. Starmer has promised not to raise taxes for “working people” and to scrap the Conservative’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. However, he faces pressure to address migration issues, including stopping the influx of people arriving across the Channel from France on small boats.

“I don’t promise you it will be easy,” Starmer said at a victory rally. “Changing a country is not like flicking a switch. It’s hard work. Patient, determined work, and we will have to get moving immediately.”

The Far-Right Surge

The Reform Party's Rise

The election result also showed growth in support for the right-wing Reform party, led by Nigel Farage, echoing recent results in Europe where the far right has been surging. Unlike France, where Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party made historic gains, the British public opted for a centre-left party to bring about change.

Relations with the EU and the US

Navigating Foreign Policy

Starmer has pledged to enhance relations with the European Union post-Brexit, but Labour has clarified that rejoining the EU is not an option. He might also have to navigate working with former President Donald Trump if Trump wins the upcoming presidential election. Trump has already extended congratulations to Farage through his social media platform, Truth Social.

While Starmer aims to bring about domestic change, he has assured that London’s steadfast support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia will continue. On many foreign policy matters, his stance aligns closely with that of Sunak.

A New Era for Labour

Turning a Crisis into Victory

The election victory marks a remarkable comeback for Starmer and the Labour Party, which both critics and supporters believed were confronting an existential crisis just three years ago following their devastating defeat in the 2019 elections.

A series of Conservative scandals, most notably revelations of parties in Downing Street during COVID lockdowns, undermined then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and the party’s commanding poll lead evaporated.