Keir Starmer’s Labour wins landslide UK election, Rishi Sunak concedes defeat

'Today, power will change hands in a peaceful and orderly manner, with goodwill on all sides,' Sunak said, conceding defeat.
Last Updated : 05 July 2024, 05:25 IST

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London: Keir Starmer on Friday promised a phase of “national renewal” as Britain’s Prime Minister-elect after he led the Labour Party to a landslide victory in a landmark UK general election with a gain of over 200 seats, as outgoing leader Rishi Sunak conceded defeat with his Conservative Party suffering its worst election defeat in history.

Starmer,61, now stands poised to take charge at 10 Downing Street after his audience with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, following Sunak’s meeting with the British monarch. As Labour crossed the halfway mark of 650 constituencies in the early hours of Friday to clinch the minimum 326 required for a majority in Parliament, Starmer stepped up to make his victory speech in London: "Change begins now. And it feels good, I have to be honest.

“A mandate like this comes with a great responsibility. Our task is nothing less than renewing the ideas that hold this country together. National renewal. Whoever you are, wherever you start in life, if you work hard, if you play by the rules, this country should give you a fair chance to get on. It should always respect your contribution and we have to restore that.”

Meanwhile, the country’s first British Indian prime minister comfortably held on to his own Richmond and Northallerton seat in northern England with 23,059 votes but failed to turn things around for his party at a national level after 14 years in government. His Conservative Party suffered its worst election defeat in history losing 250 MPs in Thursday's general election.

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A sombre-looking Sunak was joined by his wife Akshata Murty as his future as a member of Parliament was decided and chose to use his acceptance speech to also admit his party’s defeat in winning another term in government.

"The Labour Party has won this general election and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory," said Sunak, acknowledging the “sobering verdict” handed to his party and taking "responsibility for the loss".

He pledged to “continue to serve” his constituents for the “weeks, months and years ahead” and stressed that the transfer of power at Westminster will take place in a “peaceful and orderly manner with goodwill on all sides”.

In his farewell speech, the 44-year-old was filled with emotion as he apologised to the voters who had delivered the party led by him a hammering at the ballot box. But he stressed that he had given the job everything and also apologised to his Tory colleagues who lost their seats overnight.

Sunak said he will step down as the leader of the Conservative Party, taking “responsibility” for its debacle in the general election.

With some of the most prominent ministers and MPs including Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss – whose disastrous mini-budget and short-lived premiership last year is being blamed for much of the Tory debacle. Other key Tory heavyweights to lose their seats on a dismal election night for the Conservatives included Grant Shapps, Penny Mordaunt and Jacob Rees Mogg losing the election, the results being dubbed a “bloodbath” for the Conservatives.

However, among the new Tory MPs included British Indian candidate Shivani Raja who beat Labour's candidate, former deputy mayor of London Rajesh Agrawal, in the closely watched Leicester East constituency. Other British Indian Tories who managed to hold on to their seats included former ministers Priti Patel, Suella Braverman and Claire Coutinho.

On the Labour side, several Indian-origin MPs were re-elected including Preet Kaur Gill and Tan Dhesi and some newcomers made their mark such as Jas Athwal and Kanishka Narayan, who became the first British Indian to represent Wales in Parliament.

Earlier, Keir Starmer won his own seat of Holborn and St. Pancras in London with 18,884 votes and was mobbed by his supporters who could see he was on course to being named Prime Minister.

"The change begins right here. Because this is your democracy, your community and your future. You have voted. It is now time for us to deliver," said Starmer, in his acceptance speech.

Another major trend that will dominate the discourse in the coming weeks and months will be in Nigel Farage finally being elected as an MP at his eighth attempt and leading his anti-immigration Reform UK to bagging four first-time seats in the Commons. The Reform leader overturned a 25,000 Conservative majority to take Clacton in Essex by more than 8,000 votes, reflective of a wider trend of the party eating into the Tory votes.

Farage, a divisive figure in British politics, dubbed his win as "the first step of something that is going to stun all of you", describing it as the “beginning of the end” of the Conservative Party.

Published 05 July 2024, 05:25 IST

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