Starmer praises Abbott and hails diverse Commons in first speech to parliament as PM – UK politics live

Keir Starmer is now speaking. He congratulates Hoyle on his re-election, and starts by recalling how Hoyle support Craig Mackinlay when he returned to the Commons having had his hands and feet amputated after he got sepsis.

He congratulates Edward Leigh on being father of the House.

He says this parliament is the most diverse by race and gender the country has ever seen. It has the largest cohort of LGBT+ MPs of any parliament in the world, he says.

And he also pays tribute to Diane Abbott, saying she has done so much over many years to fight for a representative parliament. He says he welcomes her back.

(Starmer glosses over the fact that Abbott almost did not get re-elected, because she was suspended from the PLP until almost the last moment. It was widely assumed that Starmer did not want her back.)

Starmer says he hopes the new parliament will replace the “politics of performance with the politics of service”.

He says they all have a duty to show that politics can be a force for good.

UPDATE: Starmer said:

Mr Speaker-elect you preside over a new parliament, the most diverse parliament by race and gender this country has ever seen.

And I’m proud of the part that my party has played, proud of the part that every party has played in that. Including, in this intake, the largest cohort of LGBT+ MPs of any parliament in the world.

And given all that diversity, Mr Speaker-elect, I hope you will not begrudge me for a slight departure from convention to also pay tribute to the new mother of the House, Diane Abbott who has done so much in her career over so many years to fight for a parliament that truly represents modern Britain. We welcome her back to her place.

The chancellor, Rachel Reeves, is launching a £7.3bn national wealth fund, as part of a drive by the newly elected Labour government to attract billions of pounds of private sector cash for big infrastructure projects across the UK.As Kalyeena Makortoffand Julia Kollewe report, the NWF, which Reeves said would be established “in less than a week”, is designed to help projects such as ports, gigafactories, hydrogen and steel projects to attract a mix of investment, aiming for roughly £3 of private funds for every £1 of taxpayer cash.

Keir Starmer has used his first speech in the Commons as prime minister to urge MPs to “replace the politics of performance with the politics of service”. Speaking in a short debate following the election of the new speaker, he said the new Commons is “the most diverse parliament by race and gender this country has ever seen”, with the largest cohort of LGBT+ MPs in the world.

Lisa Nandy, the culture secretary, has said she wants to end the era of her department engaging in “culture wars”. In a message to staff, she said:

The era of culture wars is over.

Our government will be different.

A few years ago, the Royal Exchange in Manchester put on a play about the women of the miners strike.

And on one of my council estates in Wigan, working class women hired a coach to go and see it.

It was a story that had been told about their lives so many times without them in it.

And it was magical to see their response to being put at the centre of their own story again.

That is how I intend us to serve our country.

Celebrating and championing the diversity and rich inheritance of our communities and the people in them.

Under the Conservatives, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was often accused of engaging in “culture war” politics because it seemed preoccupied with attacking cultural institutions, and the BBC, over activities that could be seen as too “woke”.

Bob Blackman is the new chairman of the Conservative Party’s 1922 committee of backbench MPs, PA reports. Of the 98 votes cast, Bob Blackman received 61 and Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown 37.

Wes Streeting, the health secretary, said he was “optimistic” before his talks with the BMA junior doctors’ committee today (see 1.17pm) and he used the same word after their meeting.

In a statement issued after talks were over, he also said he was “angry” about the way junior doctors are treated in the NHS and that there was “a lot we can do to change that”. He said:

I met face to face with the junior doctors committee today to hit the reset button on relations between the government and junior doctors.

Patients, staff, and the NHS have already paid too high a price due to strike action, and I’m optimistic that we can bring this to an end.

It’s not going to be easy. This government has inherited the worst set of economic circumstances since the second world war. But both sides have shown willingness to negotiate and we are determined to do the hard work required to find a way through. I am angry about the way the junior doctors are treated in the NHS, and there is a lot we can do to change that.

Junior doctors are the future of the health service and I want to work with them to turn around our NHS.

I’m looking forward to meeting them again next week to discuss what went wrong in past talks, and to make further progress on finding a solution to this dispute.

James Wharton, the Conservative peer and former minister, has resigned as chair of the Office for Students, the higher education regulator for England.

Wharton’s appointment to chair the nominally independent regulator in 2021 was controversial because of his close ties to the then prime minister, Boris Johnson (he had run Johnson’s campaign for the Tory leadership) and for his lack of relevant experience in regulation or higher education.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

The Department for Education would like to thank Lord Wharton, for his service as chair of the Office for Students, through a period of change and challenge at the OfS.

Lord Wharton’s resignation has been accepted. The process to appoint an interim chair is underway, and a permanent replacement will be announced in due course.

During Wharton’s tenure the OfS was rebuked by the House of Lords’ industry and regulators committee for its lack of political independence, with the committee arguing that the OfS’s actions “often appear driven by the ebb and flow of short-term political priorities and media headlines”.

The regulator was also criticised for its “nonchalance” in dealing with the mounting financial stresses facing universities, and for losing the sector’s trust.

Boris Johnson has posted a message on X attacking the government for getting rid of levelling up. (See 9.41am.)

Axing levelling up shows lack of ambition and a failure to believe in this country’s potential. Labour will axe Brexit next. Then they will pointlessly whack up taxes. The drift backwards has begun.

The government insists it is just the slogan that it dropping, not the intention to address regional inequalities.

Junior doctors in England have described their meeting with Wes Streeting today aimed at resolving their pay dispute as “positive”.

As PA Media reports, more talks are expected to take place next week, Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Robert Laurenson, co-chairmen of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) junior doctors’ committee said afterwards.

Trivedi said:

It was a positive meeting, we were pleased to be able to meet the secretary of state and his team so quickly after the general election – it signifies the urgency that they’re placing on resolving this dispute which has already lasted 20 months.

The meeting today was positive and we’ve already agreed to meet again next week with the secretary of state to further discuss how we can progress.

Today we talked a little bit about some of the roadblocks that have prevented us from progressing so far, and how we can navigate through those to reach a resolution.

Laurenson added:

This secretary of state actually wanted to learn what was going wrong and why things were stalling, and we’re happy to have those conversations.

This meeting was definitely a positive step, but I don’t think we can place … a certainty on how quickly things are going to take to resolve, or what might need to happen to make things resolve.

This was definitely a collaborative talk, and I think it’s fair to say we have no plans at the moment to call for strike action.

Laurenson said that the talks today covered Streeting’s plans for reform, and that the BMA wanted to hear what he was considering. He went on:

This is a complex negotiation and it’s going to take some time.

This was a positive first step, but that’s all it was the first step. There’s much more meat that needs to be added to the bones before we’re going to be able to come out with any sort of agreement.

Now it’s just down to the government to be able to come up with a credible offer through the series of negotiations that we’re about to go into.

Trivedi said the BMA did not expect a resolution today. They just wanted to be listened to, “which is what happened,” he said. He said if both sides continued in good faith, he hoped they could reach a resolution.

Keir Starmer chose to affirm, rather than swear his oath on the bible. He said:

I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles his heirs and successors, according to the law.

Back in the world outside the House of Commons, Ben Houchen, the Conservative Tees Valley mayor, has given an interview to Times Radio in which he did his best to bury Suella Braverman’s leadership bid.

Houchen, a Johnsonite Tory (which means he is often assumed to be on the right, although Boris Johnson and Houchen are not small state obsessives and arguably they are more leftwing than Rishi Sunak), said he thought Braverman had already “shot herself in the foot” as a leadership candidate.

He explained:

I don’t think [what Braverman is offering] is a credible offering and the MPs and the members that I speak to are not interested in the divisive, rightwing politics of Suella Braverman.

The fact that she continues to entertain Reform, and even in an interview the other day didn’t rule out joining Reform, shows just how out of step she is.

I also think if the Conservative party decides to go down the route of somebody like Suella Braverman, then we can absolutely see ourselves in opposition for generations to come.

The road of redemption for the Conservative party can be as long or as short as we wish to make it. And the idea that we should be more rightwing – that is not the Conservative party that I recognise. And I absolutely wouldn’t support that. She, before the leadership contest has even started, has shot herself in the foot …

Suella Braverman could make her case if she wants to put herself forward for leadership. I think she’ll fail. I think it’s not something that the Conservative party will entertain.

And I think what you will find is the vast majority of the mainstream Conservative party recognises that it’s not about ideology why we lost. It wasn’t because we were too leftwing or too rightwing. It was about trust. It was about competence. And it was about the fact that the public had lost all confidence in us in being able to deliver effective governance.

MPs are now swearing in.

Edward Leigh and Diane Abbott, as the father and mother of the House, went first, followed by Keir Starmer. Other ministers are now taking the oath.

In the Commons Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker, has just taken the oath.

In a statement, he tells MPs the arrangements for swearing in over the next few days.

He reminds MPs that they will be on camera when swearing in.

And he says the government has told him that the House will rise for the summer recess on Tuesday 30 July.

MPs are back in the Lords now, where Lindsay Hoyle is telling the royal commission that he got the job of speaker. His spiel includes a line saying that, if he mucks up, it will be his fault, not the Commons’.

In response Angela Smith, on behalf of the commission, tells Hoyle that His Majesty will always place the most favourable construction on Hoyle’s actions.


Updated: Juli 9, 2024 — 4:44 pm

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