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‘Change begins now,’ Starmer pledges in victory speech

Sunak concedes

Source: BBC News

Labour leader Keir Starmer has promised national renewal as he claimed a thumping victory in Britain’s general election.

“We voted for it and now it has arrived too. Change begins now,” Starmer told hundreds of jubilant supporters early on Friday morning (local time).

“A changed Labour Party is ready to serve our country, ready to restore Britain to the service of working people. And across our country, people will be waking up to the news, relieved that a weight has been lifted, a burden finally removed from the shoulders of this great nation.

“Now, we can look forward, walk into the morning. The sunlight of hope, pale at first, will get stronger through the day, shining once again on a country with the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back.”

Starmer said he was aware that the mandate delivered by the landslide win also brought great responsibility. He pledged national renewal and a return of “politics to public service”.

“Make no mistake, that is the great test of politics in this era – a fight for trust is the battle that defines our age,” he said.

“It is why we campaigned so hard on demonstrating that we are fit for public service. Service is the precondition for hope, respect the bond that can unite a country. Together, the values of this changed
Labour Party are the guiding principle for a new country. Country first, party second.”

Outgoing PM Rishi Sunak is expected to head to Buckingham Palace within hours to resign. Starmer will visit the King shortly after that.

“Our task is nothing less than renewing the ideas that hold this country together: National renewal,” Starmer told his supporters.

Earlier, a sombre Sunak conceded defeat after being declared a comfortable victor in his own seat in North Yorkshire.

“The Labour Party has won this general election and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him,” he said in a brief speech.

“Today, power will change hands in a peaceful and orderly manner, with goodwill on all sides.”

British media is reporting Sunak will resign as Tory leader later on Friday.

With many results still to be announced from Thursday’s vote, Labour has already won more than 326 of the 650 seats in parliament. An exit poll suggests it will capture about 410.

On a humiliating night for Sunak, the Conservatives were predicted to suffer the worst performance in the party’s long history with voters punishing them for a cost of living crisis, failing public services, and a series of scandals.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson held Houghton and Sunderland South for Labour in the first confirmed result of the night.

“After 14 years the British people have chosen change,” Phillipson said.

“They have chosen Labour and they have chosen the leadership of Keir Starmer. Today our country with its proud history has chosen a brighter future.”

The Tories are expected to be reduced to about 130 seats, while the Liberal Democrats are forecast to win 61, Nigel Farage’s Reform UK on 13 and the Green Party two.

In Scotland, the SNP is expected to secure 10 seats with Plaid Cymru in Wales on four.

The result means a Labour PM in 10 Downing Street for the first time since 2010 and the Conservatives facing a fight for the future direction of the party.

Former justice secretary Sir Robert Buckland was the first high-profile Tory casualty, losing to Labour in Swindon South. He warned that a lurch to the right after the election would be “disastrous” for the Tories and took aim at “ill-discipline” within the party.

He was followed by Penny Mordaunt, a former leader of the House of Commons and once touted as a future Conservative leader, and former prime minister Liz Truss.

Farage triumphant

Source: X

Former Cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said it was “clearly a terrible night”, suggesting voters had been put off by the revolving door in No 10, with Boris Johnson replaced first by Liz Truss and then by Sunak.

“Voters expect the prime minister they have chosen to remain the prime minister and for it to be the voters who decide when that person is changed,” Rees-Mogg told the BBC.

After 14 years in power, it was always going to be a difficult election for the Conservatives. But the sometimes shambolic campaign – triggered at a time of Sunak’s choosing – has contributed to the party’s likely defeat.

From the rain-drenched speech announcing the surprise July 4 poll, through to the D-Day debacle as he left Normandy early to record a TV interview, Sunak struggled to convince the electorate he was the right man to lead the country.

He was not helped by the scandal of Tory candidates and officials allegedly heading to the bookies armed with inside knowledge of the date.

-with AAP

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