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New UK PM Keir Starmer assembles cabinet for first meeting: ‘now we get to work’

WorldNew UK PM Keir Starmer assembles cabinet for first meeting: ‘now we get to work’

Prime Minister Keir Starmer held his first cabinet meeting Saturday as his new government takes on the massive challenge of fixing a heap of domestic woes and winning over a public weary from years of austerity, political chaos and a battered economy.

Starmer welcomed the new ministers around the table at 10 Downing Street, saying it had been the honour of his life to be asked by King Charles III to form a government in a ceremony that officially elevated him to prime minister.

“We have a huge amount of work to do, so now we get on with our work,” he said.

Starmer’s Labour Party delivered the biggest blow to the Conservatives in their two-century history on Friday in a landslide victory on a platform of change.

Britain’s King Charles III (right) shakes hands with Keir Starmer where he invited the Labour Party leader to become prime minister and to form a new government. Photo: AP

Among a raft of problems they face are boosting a sluggish economy, fixing a broken healthcare system, and restoring trust in government.

“Just because Labour won a big landslide doesn’t mean all the problems that the Conservative government has faced has gone away,” said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London.

In his first remarks as prime minister on Friday after the meeting “kissing of hands” ceremony with Charles at Buckingham Palace, Starmer said he would get to work immediately, though he cautioned it would take some time to show results.

“Changing a country is not like flicking a switch,” he said as enthusiastic supporters cheered him outside his new official residence at 10 Downing. “This will take a while. But have no doubt that the work of change begins – immediately.”

Starmer singled out several of the big items, such as fixing the revered but hobbled National Health Service and securing its borders, a reference to a larger global problem across Europe and the US of absorbing an influx of migrants fleeing war, poverty as well as drought, heatwaves and floods attributed to climate change.
Britain’s Prime Minister Keir Starmer (middle) hosts his first cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street. Photo: AP
Conservatives struggled to contain the flow of migrants arriving across the English Channel, failing to live up to former prime minister’s Rishi Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats”.

Starmer has said he will scrap the Conservatives’ controversial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. The plan had cost hundreds of millions of pounds without a single flight taking off.

“Labour is going to need to find a solution to the small boats coming across the channel,” Bale said. “It’s going to ditch the Rwanda scheme, but it’s going to have to come up with other solutions to deal with that particular problem.”

Suella Braverman, a Conservative hard liner on immigration who is a possible contender to replace Sunak as party leader, criticised Starmer’s plan to end the Rwanda pact.

“Years of hard work, acts of parliament, millions of pounds been spent on a scheme which had it been delivered properly would have worked,” she said on Saturday.

“There are big problems on the horizon which will be I’m afraid caused by Keir Starmer.”

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