Rachel Reeves becomes UK’s first female chancellor with Angela Rayner deputy PM as Keir Starmer names cabinet – election live

Rachel Reeves has been confirmed as the new chancellor. She is the first woman to hold the post in its 800-year history.

It means she has broken one of the few “glass ceilings’ left for women in British politics. (We have still not had a woman serve as clerk of the Commons, another post that goes back to the middle ages.)

Keir Starmer’s Labour party won 412 seats to the Tories’ 121 in the general election, while the Liberal Democrats were on a record 71, the Scottish National party (SNP) on nine, Reform UK on five and the Greens on four. After 649 of 650 results had been declared, the turnout figure stood at 59.8%, a sharp decline from an overall turnout of 67.3% at the last election in 2019. A recount in the Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire seat will not restart until 10.30am on Saturday, delaying the final result of the general election. But the Liberal Democrats are poised to win the seat.

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, and Penny Mordaunt, the Commons leader, were among the most high-profile cabinet ministers unseated by opposition candidates. Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, and Michelle Donelan, the science secretary, were also ousted. Former prime minister Liz Truss lost her seat in South West Norfolk. The Conservatives lost every seat they had held in Wales.

Following the disastrous set of results for the Tories, former Conservative party chairman Eric Pickles warned that the party could face “oblivion” at the next general election. He said there are now no “safe seats”.

Keir Starmer, the UK’s new prime minister, quickly started to assemble his new cabinet. Rachel Reeves was confirmed as Britain’s first female chancellor; Angela Rayner is Starmer’s deputy prime minister and retained the levelling up, housing and communities brief, while Yvette Cooper is home secretary and David Lammy was appointed as the foreign secretary.

Starmer has already spoken with the US president, Joe Biden. The White House said the two leaders reaffirmed the UK-US “special relationship” in a phone call and said Biden looks forward to meeting the Labour party leader at the Nato summit in Washington next week.

Rishi Sunak, the former prime minister, used his final speech in Downing Street to apologise to the British people and the Conservative party. Sunak confirmed he was standing down as Conservative leader but would stay in place while his replacement was elected. The Guardian has been told that prospective Conservative party leadership candidates are preparing for a speedy contest to appoint a successor to Sunak by the autumn in an effort to challenge the rise of Reform. Nigel Farage, the Reform UK party’s leader, said his priority is to now target Labour votes.

Scottish first minister and SNP party leader John Swinney described the party’s election results, the SNP’s worst since 2010, as “very damaging” and tough.

Ireland’s premier, Simon Harris, said the election of a Labour government in the UK can herald a “great reset” in Anglo-Irish relations.

Sinn Féin has become Northern Ireland’s largest party in Westminster after voters turned against the Democratic Unionist party (DUP). The DUP lost three of its eight Westminster seats in Thursday’s election, including the North Antrim stronghold held by Ian Paisley and before that his late father since 1970.

Thank you for reading and all your comments today. This blog is closing now but you can read all of our politics coverage here.

Shortly after 3.30am on Friday, as Nigel Farage was finally elected to Westminster at the eighth time of asking, the Reform UK leader stood to deliver a speech that was fully intended to interrupt Labour’s euphoric celebrations elsewhere.

Having played a large part in the implosion of Conservative support, Reform would now be targeting Labour voters, the new member for Clacton said. “We’re coming for Labour – be in no doubt about that.”

Vowing to build a “mass national movement” that could mount a “proper” general election challenge in 2029, Farage said: “This is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you.”

This result was remarkable enough. Though the shocking initial exit poll prediction of 13 seats for the populist hard-right party did not, in the end, come to pass, its final tally of five seats still represents a big advance. Founded only in 2018 as the Brexit party, it had never previously won a Westminster seat at any election.

And if that headline figure remains small, it conceals a much more significant breadth of support in a wide range of seats, Conservative and Labour, right across the country. Nationally, Reform won more than 4m votes, over 600,000 more than the Liberal Democrats who returned 71 MPs thanks in part to their sophisticated ground campaign and targeted tactical voting. The Green party won four parliamentary seats on under 2m votes, less than half the tally of Reform.

Inevitably, Farage told a press conference in Westminster on Friday that Reform would be lobbying to abolish first past the post, an electoral system that he said was “not fit for purpose – and we will campaign with anyone and everyone to change this electoral system”.

Drilling into the constituency results reveals the scale of the potential threat Reform could pose in future. The party came second in no fewer than 103 seats, of which 93 were claimed by Labour.

You can read the full story by my colleagues, Esther AddleyandBen Quinn, here:

Julian Borger is the Guardian’s world affairs editor based in Washington

A senior administration official was just asked about whether there is a bilateral meeting arranged between Joe Biden and Keir Starmer during the Nato summit in Washington next week.

The official said:

The president had a very constructive and productive call with prime minister Starmer earlier today, in which they talked about the importance of the special relationship.

They talked about our cooperation on Ukraine around the world, including on upholding the gains of the Belfast Good Friday agreement. So a very good, productive conversation there.

I fully expect that the leaders will interact at some point during the summit, but I don’t have anything to announce for you today.

Eric Pickles, a former MP for Brentwood and Ongar who was secretary of state for communities and local government between 2010 and 2015, has given advice on what the Conservatives should do next.

The former Conservative party chairman said the Tories should not assume things are at their worst as the party – which has 121 seats – could face “oblivion” at the next general election. Pickles said there is now “no safe seats” as Tory MPs were defeated by Reform candidates – to their right – and Liberal Democrats to their left. He also said Reform, led by Nigel Farage, was not responsible for the Conservative’s losses.

Pickles said the party should not rush picking the next leader and should create the conditions in which the “best person” emerges. He implied this person should be a more moderate MP who could unit the different wings of the increasingly split Conservative party.

Rishi Sunak, the former prime minister, said early today that he would resign as Tory leader. But he said he would not do so until formal arrangements for a successor had taken place.

The health secretary, Wes Streeting, has said junior doctors in England will restart negotiations with the government next week.

In a statement, Streeting said:

I have just spoken over the phone with the BMA (British Medical Association) junior doctors committee, and I can announce that talks to end their industrial action will begin next week.

We promised during the campaign that we would begin negotiations as a matter of urgency, and that is what we are doing.

Health leaders have urged the government to resolve the long-running dispute as a “priority” after it emerged that tens of thousands of appointments were postponed as a result of the latest strike.

Medics in training across the NHS went on strike for five full days from 27 June. NHS England said 61,989 appointments, procedures and operations were postponed as a result of the latest round of industrial action by junior doctors. The latest walkout was the 11th strike by junior doctors in 20 months.

Junior doctors have been pursuing a 35% pay rise to act as “full pay restoration” for the 26.2% fall in the value of their incomes they have seen since 2008-09.

Streeting has said previously he would not meet the 35%, saying that if he gave in to the demand then “any trade union worth their salt” would come back the following year with the same request.

He has said there is “space for a discussion” on pay, as well as negotiations on how to improve working conditions for medics in training.

SNP leader John Swinney has spoken with Keir Starmer this evening.

Speaking after the telephone call, a Scottish government spokesperson said:

The first minister spoke with the prime minister by telephone this evening and congratulated him on his appointment.

He committed to working collaboratively and cooperatively with the UK government on areas of mutual interest.

The first minister has outlined his priorities in government and believes there are many ways in which the two governments can work together to deliver progress on them for the benefit of people in Scotland.

Labour won 35.7% of the vote in Scotland, several points more than in the UK as a whole, and gained 36 seats, a result that shocked the SNP leadership and surprised Labour’s strategists (you can read more about the results in Scotland here).

Swinney – who took over as SNP leader eight weeks ago – has implied that his devolved government in Edinburgh would now need to rebuild its relationship with the UK government by making common cause with Starmer.

It was no surprise that Bridget Phillipson, the MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, who has been the Labour party’s education lead since 2021, was appointed by Keir Starmer to the position of education secretary in his new cabinet today.

Teacher recruitment, retention and pay, improving childcare provision (Labour pledged to open 3,000 new nurseries, and offer free breakfast clubs in every primary school), overhauling the Ofsted grading system, school deficits, getting to grips with high levels of pupil absence, tackling the widening attainment gap and reducing soaring child poverty levels are some of the issues Phillipson is presented with. Labour has been criticised for not being bold enough in its proposals. You can read more about the party’s education policies in this excellent ‘Life under Labour’ analysis piece by the Guardian’s education correspondent, Sally Weale.

After being appointed by Starmer on Friday, Phillipson said:

Opportunity should be for all – not just a lucky few. That’s why education is at the heart of the change this new government will make and will be at the forefront of national life.

Education is key to improving children’s life chances. Lives are shaped by opportunity but too many people of all ages, in too many parts of this great country, simply don’t have the opportunities to succeed – this government will make sure they do.

We’ll break down those barriers to opportunity through supporting children to get the best start in life, high and rising school standards for all and skills training to support growth, so that everyone can achieve and thrive.

Government can’t do this alone. From day one we will reset the relationship between government, families and our education workforce; our dedicated teachers and school staff, early years staff, university and college professionals and social workers. Education will be at the heart of our national story, and it’s our workforces who are at the heart of education.

Keir Starmer’s cabinet will have the highest number of state-educated and female ministers in history, as Rachel Reeves became the first female chancellor ever, although ethnic representation has fallen.

A record 89 minority ethnic MPs were elected to parliament overall, according to research by the thinktank British Future, but David Lammy, the foreign secretary, will be the only black cabinet minister in Starmer’s government.

The first Labour cabinet in 14 years will also only have two ministers of Asian descent – Shabana Mahmood, one of the UK’s first Muslim female MPs, and Lisa Nandy.

Only two ministers in Starmer’s cabinet went to private school – Louise Haigh, who attended Sheffield High School, and Anneliese Dodds, who went to Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen.

You can read the full story by my colleagues, Aletha AduandMichael Goodier, here:

We reported earlier (see post at 19.47) that Ireland’s premier Simon Harris said the election of a Labour government in the UK could herald a “great reset” in Anglo-Irish relations.

Northern Ireland first minister Michelle O’Neill has now said she raised the need to “reset” British-Irish relations and with the executive when she spoke to Starmer on Friday evening.

The Sinn Féin vice-president also raised health funding, the redevelopment of Casement Park and the controversial Legacy Act (that offers conditional immunity to soldiers and paramilitaries involved in the Troubles), the PA news agency reports.

“I urged the prime minister to follow through on his commitments to bin the Tories’ shameful Legacy Act which has failed victims and survivors,” O’Neill said.

“I will continue to press the British government on the things that matter most people, delivering for public services and all our communities as we engage in the days ahead.”

Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, meanwhile, said that she hopes “this new horizon is grasped by the Labour party”, adding “there’s a lot to be repaired”.

Two more cabinet appointments in Keir Starmer’s new government:

Timpson chief executive, James Timpson, who was recently appointed the HRH Prince of Wales ambassador for responsible business in the North West, has been appointed minister of state for prisons, parole and probation within the MoJ.

The UK’s former chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has been appointed science minister in the department for science, innovation and technology.

 

Updated: Juli 5, 2024 — 2:55 pm

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