Keir Starmer on Friday promised to “rebuild Britain” as he took office as the United Kingdom’s new Prime Minister following his center-left Labour Party’s landslide general election victory that ended 14 years of Conservative rule.

Head of state King Charles III asked Starmer to form a government during a meeting at Buckingham Palace, officially appointing the 61-year-old former human rights lawyer as PM.Flag-waving crowds of cheering Labour activists lined Downing Street as Starmer arrived as the party’s first Prime Minister since Gordon Brown in 2010.

“Now, our country has voted decisively for change, for national renewal and a return of politics to public service.

“The work of change begins immediately, but have no doubt, we will rebuild Britain,” he said in his first speech in the role.

– ‘Sorry’ –

A sombre Rishi Sunak conceded defeat during a torrid night for his Conservatives that claimed the scalps of at least 12 of his senior Cabinet colleagues — and his predecessor Liz Truss.

Truss’s disastrous 49-day tenure effectively sealed the Tories’ fate with the public two years ago when her unfunded tax cuts spooked markets and crashed the pound.

Before leaving Downing Street for the final time as prime minister, Sunak said “sorry” to the public and that he would step down as Tory leader once formal arrangements for a successor were in place.

Labour raced past the 326 seats needed to secure an overall majority in the 650-seat House of Commons at 0400 GMT, with the final result expected on Saturday.

As of 1200 GMT on Friday, the party had won 412 seats in the House of Commons with only two results left to declare, giving it a majority of more than 170.

The Tories won just 121 seats — a record low — with the right-wing vote spliced by Nigel Farage’s anti-immigration Reform UK party.

In another boost for the centrists, the smaller opposition Liberal Democrats ousted the Scottish National Party as the third-biggest party.

– World reaction –

The results buck a trend among Britain’s closest Western allies, with the far right in France eyeing power and Donald Trump looking set for a return in the United States.

Congratulations came in from the European Council chief Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz who said Starmer would be a “very good, very successful” prime minister.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the two countries would “continue to be reliable allies through thick and thin.”

Outside London’s busy Waterloo station, Ramsey Sargent called it a “super exciting time.”

“It was a momentous election. It has been very rocky over the last few months and years. I’m excited to see what happens next,” the 49-year-old engagement officer told AFP.

– ‘Catastrophic’ –

Sunak tendered his resignation to the king shortly after returning to London from his rural constituency in northern England, where the depth of his party’s defeat quickly became apparent.


Source: Punch Newspapers


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