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.)

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.

Severin Carrell is the Guardian’s Scotland editor

The Liberal Democrats are poised to pick up an additional Westminster seat after the Scottish National party’s candidate conceded defeat in a closely-fought contest in the Highlands.

The seat of Inverness, Skye and Ross-shire – the last constituency in the UK to declare, was to be decided on Saturday after being subjected to a technical recount after discrepancies in voting tallies, which is due to start at 10.30am.

But the SNP candidate Drew Hendry, who had been defending the seat against a strong Liberal Democrat attack headed by its candidate Angus Macdonald, has written to his supporters stating that he expects to lose on Saturday.

That will deepen a humiliating election result for the SNP, leaving it on nine seats, but boost the Lib Dems at Westminster by taking their overall tally to 72. This will leave the Scottish Liberal Democrats on six seats – its strongest Westminster result in decades.

The pro-independence National newspaper said Hendry, a former Highlands council leader who first won its predecessor seat in the SNP landslide of 2015, had confirmed he knew the Lib Dems would win.

In a letter to supporters, he said:

Friends, thank you for all your incredible work over these past few months – you have been brilliant.

It has been a difficult result for our SNP family, including here in our constituency. While there is still to be a recount tomorrow, it is a technical recount due to an admin error on the verification process.

Unfortunately, it will not change the result which will see the Lib Dems take this seat.

Over the coming days and weeks, I will share my personal thanks to everyone involved in the campaign but for now, a simple thank you to each and everyone of you for your support over these years.

The White House has released a statement saying the US president, Joe Biden, has spoken with Keir Starmer, the UK’s prime minister, reaffirming the “special relationship” between the UK and the US.

“They reiterated their continued support for Ukraine as it fights Russia’s unrelenting aggression,” the statement read.

“They affirmed their shared commitment to protecting the gains of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and working with the leaders of Northern Ireland to create and sustain economic growth and opportunities.

“The President looks forward to welcoming prime minister Starmer to the Washington summit next week to celebrate Nato’s 75th anniversary.”

In his first overseas diplomatic trip as the UK’s prime minister, Starmer is due to attend the Nato leaders’ summit – which starts on Tuesday – alongside his foreign and defence secretaries (David Lammy and John Healey). He will meet other western leaders and reaffirm the UK’s support for Ukraine. The Telegraph reports that Starmer is likely to miss the first day of the summit because he has to attend a swearing-in ceremony for new MPs in the House of Commons.

Starmer’s victory led many international headlines on Friday morning. The New York Times offered a straight appraisal of the results, “Labour party wins UK election in a landslide”, but noted both Starmer’s “remarkable turnaround” of his party and the fact that Nigel Farage, “a supporter of Donald Trump and a driving force behind Brexit”, had won a seat.

Germany’s Die Welt offered a pithy precis – “Tories experience ‘massacre’, Labour have clear victory; ‘Mr. Brexit’ returns” – while France’s Le Monde said Labour’s “historic victory” was evidence of “the thorough reconstruction of the British political landscape”.

In Spain, where the far-right Vox is the third biggest party in parliament, La Vanguardia noted the strong showing by Farage’s Reform UK party: “Labour storms it while the far right makes spectacular gains in the UK.”

And, in an introduction to its Friday podcast, the online Spanish newspaper ElDiario was blunt in its appraisal of the state of the UK – and of Starmer’s Tory predecessors: “A country where nothing works like it used to, a historical power now full of cracks, a society that has fallen victim to its own decisions has voted for change after 14 years of Conservative rule, and for a progressive leader from a humble background without eccentricities.”

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

The taoiseach said he looks forward to working closely with Sir Keir Starmer as he acknowledged his “comprehensive victory” in the general election.

“I want to congratulate him and his family, his staff and his candidates, and as taoiseach I look forward to working together as close neighbours and as friends,” he said.

“The relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom is deeply consequential for all people across these islands and the relationship between an Irish taoiseach and a British prime minister is vital.”

The relationship between London and Dublin has been under severe strain in recent years. The turbulence caused by Brexit and the Conservative government’s controversial laws to deal with the legacy of the Troubles were areas of major tension.

Harris hinted at Dublin’s belief that successive Conservative governments had undermined the Good Friday agreement, a legacy of former Labour leader Tony Blair’s premiership. “In the Labour party manifesto the language towards Ireland was language of partnership and as co-guarantors of our shared peace. This morning from Dublin I want to send a message to London that I will match Keir Starmer’s commitment and energy to our peace process and to our future potential in so many areas.”

There is widespread support in Belfast and Dublin for Labour’s plan to scrap the Legacy Act that offers conditional immunity to soldiers and paramilitaries involved in the Troubles.

Wes Streeting has given his first statement as the new health secretary, warning that the NHS is “broken” and that “patients are being failed on a daily basis”.

Streeting said that the service is “going through the biggest crisis in its history” and it cannot be fixed overnight.

In a statement, he said:

When we said during the election campaign, that the NHS was going through the biggest crisis in its history, we meant it.

When we said that patients are being failed on a daily basis, it wasn’t political rhetoric, but the daily reality faced by millions.

Previous governments have not been willing to admit these simple facts. But in order to cure an illness, you must first diagnose it.

This government will be honest about the challenges facing our country, and serious about tackling them.

From today, the policy of this department is that the NHS is broken. That is the experience of patients who are not receiving the care they deserve, and of the staff working in the NHS who can see that – despite giving their best – this is not good enough.

Streeting added:

This government has received a mandate from millions of voters for change and reform of the NHS, so it can be there for us when we need it once again. It will take time – we never pretended that the NHS could be fixed overnight.

And it will take a team effort. It will be the mission of my department, every member of this government, and the 1.4 million people who work in the NHS, to turn our health service around.

We have done this before. When we were last in office, we worked hand in hand with NHS staff to deliver the shortest waits and highest patient satisfaction in history. We did it before, and together, we will do it again. That work starts today.

Streeting’s department faces numerous challenges ahead: strikes; NHS funding predicted to fall £38bn short by the end of the parliament; and almost 10 million people on waiting lists. Strikes will be the main focus of his attention in the short-term though.

After Labour’s election victory, Keir Starmer went to Buckingham Palace to meet with King Charles. The king had to formally ask Starmer to form a new government before he could be appointed as the new prime minister.

It is the first time video of the meeting has been publicly released on the same day the prime minister was elected:

Some more of Labour’s new cabinet:

Darren Jones, who was reelected as the MP for Bristol North West, has been appointed as chief secretary to the Treasury

Barrister Richard Hermer KC has been appointed attorney general. He has just been given a life peerage to take the role as attorney general.

Alan Campbell, who represents Tynemouth as an MP, has been appointed to the position of chief whip.

Turnout at the general election is on track to be the lowest for more than 20 years, the PA news agency reports.

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.

It is also the worst turnout at a general election since 2001, when the figure slumped to 59.4%: the lowest since before the second world war.

The highest turnout at a general election since the war was 83.9% in 1950, according to figures compiled by the House of Commons Library.

The final turnout figure for the 2024 election will be confirmed on Saturday morning, when the last result is due to be declared, for the seat of Inverness, Skye & West Ross-shire.

Factors that could’ve influenced the relatively low turnout figure yesterday?

Stricter voter ID rules.

The constant talk of a large Labour majority or “supermajority” (as popularised by Grant Shapps, the now former defence secretary) may have left some voters feeling there was no point of going to the polling booth.

Wider fatigue with politics and distrust of politicians.

Prospective Conservative party leadership candidates are preparing for a speedy contest to appoint a successor to Rishi Sunak by the autumn in an effort to challenge the rise of Reform.

Potential contenders among the heavily depleted Tory ranks have already started organising their campaigns ahead of an expedited process to install a new leader, after the party crashed to its worst election result in history.

Senior party figures are concerned that a drawn-out leadership contest would benefit Nigel Farage’s insurgent rightwing Reform UK and allow Labour to set the narrative about the Tory record in government, two well-placed Tory sources said.

“There’s a deep-rooted fear within the party institutionally that if we don’t have a full-time leader by September, that will allow Farage to position himself as the main opposition to Starmer,” a Tory close to HQ said.

“If you wait until party conference or even Christmas, the problem is you then come in as leader and instead of facing Starmer … you’re suddenly having to first argue with Farage.”

Two sources said Sunak had indicated he would stay in place as a caretaker party leader until early September or potentially later into the autumn if needed.

You can read the full story by my colleagues, Eleni CoureaandRowena Mason, here:

The US president, Joe Biden, has congratulated Keir Starmer on becoming the UK’s new prime minister after his landslide victory in the general election.

Biden, 81, is facing pressure to step down as the Democrat’s presidential candidate over concerns about his age, highlighted in his disastrous debate performance last week.

In a tweet posted to X on Friday, Biden wrote:

Congratulations to prime minister Keir Starmer on becoming prime minister of the United Kingdom.

I look forward to our shared work in support of freedom and democracy around the world, and to further strengthening the special relationship between our two countries.

 

Updated: Juli 5, 2024 — 2:55 pm

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