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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Keir Starmer Vows ‘National Renewal’ in First Speech as U.K. Prime Minister

In his first speech to the nation as prime minister, Keir Starmer said that Britain had “voted decisively for change, for national renewal,” and promised to lead a pragmatic government that would restore hope and the nation’s faith in politics and public service.

Speaking outside No. 10 Downing Street under cloudy afternoon skies, Mr. Starmer began by praising his predecessor, Rishi Sunak, who had given his own brief farewell remarks from the same spot a couple of hours earlier, before turning to his own ambitions.

“We need to move forward together,” Mr. Starmer said. He acknowledged the challenges ahead, nodding to the fractured vote that delivered Labour its biggest parliamentary majority in decades, but a low voter turnout that reflected disillusionment with Britain’s politics and economic problems.

“Have no doubt that the work of change begins immediately,” he said.

The Labour Party leader’s car arrived in Downing Street from Buckingham Palace, where moments earlier King Charles III had invited him to form a government. Before speaking, flanked by his wife, Victoria, Mr. Starmer thanked jubilant supporters, many waving British flags, in an echo of the welcome given to the last Labour leader to defeat the Conservatives in a general election: Tony Blair in 1997.

Mr. Starmer mentioned few specific policies in his remarks, talking of a government “unburdened by doctrine,” pledging to work pragmatically for all Britons, unite the nation and govern with respect and humility.

“Whether you voted Labour or not — in fact, especially if you did not — I say to you directly: ‘My government will serve you,’” he said. “Politics can be a force for good. We will show that.”

Britons, he said, had given his party “a clear mandate, and we will use it to deliver change to restore service and respect to politics, end the era of noisy performance, tread more lightly on your lives and unite our country.”

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