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Starmer names first cabinet after landslide win

Saturday July 6, 2024
By Sam Francis

Sir Keir Starmer's new cabinet will meet for the first time on Saturday - the first full day of Labour being in power.

Rachel Reeves is the UK's first female chancellor, while Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner is also among a record 11 women in the team of 25.

Sir Keir appointed his cabinet on Friday after Labour's landslide election win, and in his first speech as PM said the work of change "begins immediately".

Speaking at Downing Street, he also promised to restore trust in politics with a "government of service".

The cabinet meeting will focus on what Labour calls its "first steps" which include - among other things - economic stability, cutting NHS waiting lists and tackling illegal immigration.

David Lammy has become the foreign secretary while Yvette Cooper is home secretary.

Speaking outside No 10 after being appointed PM by the King at Buckingham Palace, Sir Keir pledged: "My government will serve you, politics can be a force for good.

"The work of change begins immediately, but have no doubt, we will rebuild Britain."

In his farewell speech outside No 10, Rishi Sunak apologised to Tory candidates and told the public: “I have heard your anger, your disappointment."

Labour won 412 seats - giving the party a majority of 174 in the new House of Commons. The Conservatives were reduced to a record low for them of 121 MPs, a net fall of 251.

The Liberal Democrats made 63 gains, giving them 71 seats. The SNP suffered a severe defeat, losing 38 seats to stand on nine with one constituency still to declare.

Reform UK won five seats, include leader Nigel Farage's in Clacton, with the Greens increasing their number of MPs from one to four. Plaid Cymru doubled its number of MPs from two to four.

Within hours of becoming prime minister, Sir Keir's appointments to his top team came thick and fast. He is expected to announce more ministerial roles.

Alongside her role as Sir Keir's deputy, Ms Rayner will take control of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

A significant majority of the cabinet were state educated - with only three attending private schools.

The other two veterans of the last Labour government are Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Ed Miliband, and Northern Ireland Secretary Hilary Benn.

Mr Lammy also served as a minister in the last Labour government alongside Pat McFadden, who takes over the Cabinet Office, and Defence Secretary John Healey.

All cabinet members supported Remain in the 2016 EU referendum. Ahead of the election, Sir Keir ruled out the UK rejoining the EU single market in his lifetime.

Sir Keir spent his first few hours as PM receiving calls of congratulations from world leaders.

US President Joe Biden told Sir Keir he looked forward to "further strengthening the special relationship" with the UK, according to the White House and Downing Street

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a social media post: "I am grateful to Prime Minister Starmer for reaffirming the UK's principled and unwavering support for Ukraine."

Meanwhile, Sir Keir and Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris committed themselves "to reset and strengthen" Anglo-Irish relations "with urgency and ambition", the Irish government said.

The new cabinet includes some unexpected appointments.

Richard Hermer is attorney general, rather than Emily Thornberry who had shadowed the role.

Mr Hermer, a friend of Sir Keir's from when he was a barrister, will receive a life peerage to allow him to sit in the House of Lords and attend cabinet.

Some members of Sir Keir's shadow cabinet have not yet been given new positions - including Ms Thornberry, shadow women and equalities secretary and party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds, and shadow minister without portfolio Nick Thomas-Symonds.
A peerage has been given to former government chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance to become a science minister in the new government.

James Timpson has also received a peerage and appointed prisons minister.

He is current CEO of the Timpson Group, which has a policy of employing ex-offenders across its UK watch and shoe repair chain.
Neither Lord Vallance nor Lord Timpson will attend cabinet, the BBC understands.

Ms Reeves is the first woman to hold the second most important role in government in the office's 708-year history.

She said: "To every young girl and woman reading this, let today show that there should be no limits on your ambitions."

Ms Reeves told her new team of Treasury officials she was "under no illusions of the scale of challenges we face".

David Lammy promised to "reset" the UK's relationship with overseas allies after being appointed foreign secretary

Mr Lammy posted on social media that being appointed foreign secretary was "the honour of my life".

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Lammy said his first priorities were "a reset on Europe, a reset on our relationships with the global south and a reset on climate".

Some of Sir Keir's key allies lost their seats, including Jonathan Ashworth in Leicester South, beaten by independent candidate Shockat Adam, who campaigned against Mr Ashworth's stance on the war in Gaza. .

Former shadow culture secretary Thangam Debbonaire lost to Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer in Bristol Central
After surviving a challenge from a pro-Gaza independent in Birmingham Ladywood, Shabana Mahmood has been appointed justice secretary.

The Cabinet team announced are:

Sir Keir Starmer - Prime Minister
Angela Rayner - Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Rachel Reeves - Chancellor of the Exchequer
Pat McFadden - Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
David Lammy - Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs
Yvette Cooper - Secretary of State for the Home Department
John Healey - Secretary of State for Defence
Shabana Mahmood - Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
Wes Streeting - Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Bridget Phillipson - Secretary of State for Education
Ed Miliband - Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
Liz Kendall - Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Jonathan Reynolds - Secretary of State for Business and Trade
Peter Kyle - Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
Louise Haigh - Secretary of State for Transport
Steve Reed - Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Lisa Nandy - Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Hilary Benn - Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Ian Murray - Secretary of State for Scotland
Jo Stevens - Secretary of State for Wales
Lucy Powell - Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
Baroness Smith - Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords
Alan Campbell - Chief Whip in the House of Commons
Darren Jones - Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Richard Hermer - Attorney General

Rishi Sunak promised to stay on as leader of the Conservatives until his successor is chosen by the party.

Mr Sunak has pledged to remain party leader until arrangements for selecting his successor were in place.

Penny Mordaunt - the former leader of the Commons and twice a candidate to be prime minister - lost her Portsmouth North seat, as did ex-cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg.

One key reason for the Conservatives' results was increased support for Reform UK - who won 14.3% of the vote, propelling party leader
Nigel Farage into Parliament for the first time, alongside four other Reform MPs.

The Liberal Democrats meanwhile have become the third largest in the Commons.

The Greens recorded their best general election performance yet with 6.8% of the vote across Great Britain. 


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