Starmer Becomes U.K. Prime Minister After Labour Party Landslide (2024)

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Starmer Becomes U.K. Prime Minister After Labour Party Landslide (1)

Mark Landler,Megan Specia and Stephen Castle

Reporting from London

Here’s the latest in Britain’s election.

Prime Minister Keir Starmer took office in Britain on Friday and promised a “national renewal” after his center-left Labour Party won a landslide election victory that decisively swept the Conservatives out of power but pointed to a dissatisfied and fragmented nation.

While Labour’s more than 410 seats in Parliament ensured the party a robust majority, the breakdown of votes, and the lowest turnout in years, indicated the challenges ahead for Mr. Starmer. The BBC estimated that Labour had garnered only 35 percent of the votes nationwide, which John Curtice, a prominent polling expert, said would be “the lowest share of the vote won by any single-party majority government.”

Just 60 percent of voters were forecast to have participated, close to a record low and a possible sign that some voters had checked out after years of political dysfunction. Smaller parties and independent candidates saw their support surge, and Reform U.K., the new anti-immigration party led by the Trump ally Nigel Farage, became Britain’s third biggest party by vote share, winning 14 percent of the vote and five seats in Parliament.

After meeting with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, Mr. Starmer seemed to acknowledge the pressure on Labour to act fast, saying in a speech outside No. 10 Downing Street: “Our work is urgent and we begin it today.” He added that Britons had “voted decisively for change” and called on the country “to move forward together.”

Hours earlier, the departing prime minister, Rishi Sunak, gave brief, conciliatory remarks in Downing Street, congratulating Mr. Starmer, accepting responsibility for his party’s resounding defeat and saying to voters that he had “heard your anger.” With almost all 650 races declared, the Conservatives were on course for fewer than 130 seats, the worst defeat for the party in its nearly 200-year history.

Here’s what else to know:

  • Labour’s makeover: For Mr. Starmer, a low-key lawyer who only entered Parliament in 2015, it was a remarkable vindication of his four-year project to pull the Labour Party away from the left-wing policies of his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, and rebrand it as a plausible alternative to the increasingly erratic rule of the Conservatives.

  • The new government: Mr. Starmer’s cabinet has begun taking shape. Rachel Reeves became the first woman to oversee Britain’s economy as chancellor of the Exchequer. David Lammy is foreign secretary, Yvette Cooper is home secretary and John Healey is defense secretary — all carrying over the shadow roles they held in opposition. And Angela Rayner was named Britain’s deputy prime minister and secretary of state.

  • Sunak’s future: Mr. Sunak said he would resign as party leader, “not immediately” but once arrangements to choose his successor were in place. He offered a robust case for his achievements in less than two years in office: cutting inflation, resolving a trade dispute with the European Union and steadying Britain’s economy.

  • Right-wing ferment: Reform U.K.’s strong showing was a victory for Mr. Farage, the party’s leader and a veteran political disrupter who won a seat after failing in seven previous bids to get into Parliament. From his new perch, Mr. Farage could try to poach the remnants of the debilitated Conservatives.

  • Other parties: Frustration with the two main parties was apparent in the strong showing by others. The centrist Liberal Democrats earned 71 seats, their best result in a century. And Reform U.K. was not the only smaller party to do well: the Green Party and a number of pro-Palestinian independent candidates won formerly safe Labour seats.

July 5, 2024, 12:56 p.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 12:56 p.m. ET

Stephen Castle

Reporting from London

Reform U.K.’s success is latest sign of strength for Europe’s far right.

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Keir Starmer and the Labour Party may have won Britain’s general election, but another politician was also looking happy on Friday.

Nigel Farage, Britain’s veteran political disrupter and Brexit campaigner, saw his new anti-immigration Reform U.K. party secure five seats in Parliament and it could have been more. Reform won more than four million votes nationwide — around 14 percent — making it Britain’s third most successful party by that measure.

It was the latest successful result in Europe by populist, right-wing parties, and it instantly drew comparisons to the National Rally, which is seeking to become France’s biggest party in that country’s parliament in a final round of voting on Sunday. In his campaign, Mr. Farage said immigration had “diminished” the quality of life in Britain and that “the time has come to stand up and say ‘enough is enough.’” He has called for a “freeze” on nonessential immigration, blaming it for putting pressure on health services and housing.

Britain’s electoral system of first-past-the-post tends to work against smaller parties, meaning that Reform collected far fewer seats in the 650-member House of Commons than its vote share might have indicated. Still, Mr. Farage sounded triumphant on Friday.

“There is a massive gap on the center right of British politics, and my job is to fill it,” he told jubilant supporters after it was announced that he had won a parliamentary seat in Clacton, an economically distressed seaside region, by a big margin. It was his first successful run after seven failed races for Parliament.

He said his party would also “now be targeting Labour votes,” building on its second-place finish in the popular vote to become the dominant center-left party in several seats in northern England.

But the Conservatives may be most worried for now by Reform’s sudden rise. For years, Mr. Farage has tormented them, pushing the party to the right. Pressure from the U.K. Independence Party, which he once led, prompted the Tories to offer the Brexit referendum in 2016 that led to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Ahead of the general election, Mr. Farage suggested he could mount a takeover of the Conservatives if they suffered a cataclysmic defeat. A meltdown on that scale was averted. But with his three fellow lawmakers, Mr. Farage now has a bridgehead in Parliament, resources to build up his fledgling party and a platform from which to harass the Conservatives — as well as target voters in some traditionally Labour areas.

Success could bring greater scrutiny. During the election campaign, Mr. Farage endured a wave of criticism after Channel 4 News aired an exposé in which an undercover investigator secretly filmed Reform campaigners in Clacton making racist and hom*ophobic statements, including using a racial slur to describe the incumbent prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

Mr. Farage is no stranger to controversy. A strong supporter of Donald J. Trump — he had initially said he wouldn’t run for Parliament so he could campaign for Mr. Trump in the United States — he has also argued that the West had provoked Russia into invading Ukraine.

His love of the limelight and his reluctance to delegate could hamper his ability to build his new party into the force he claims it will become. But he has nevertheless been able to force his way back onto the political stage.

With Mr. Sunak saying on Friday that he would step down as party leader, the Conservatives must decide on a new leadership and direction, and whether to build back by appealing to centrist voters or those on the hard right.

In the general election, the Tories lost dozens of seats to the centrist Liberal Democrats, so some moderates see that as a reason for their party to tack to the center. But others are worried that Mr. Farage’s noisy but often effective voice will push the party farther to the right.

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U.K. election results

Seats needed for majority Labour Winner 412seats SNP 9 Lib 72 Other 36 Conservative 121 Party Votes Percent Pct.% Seats Change Seat change Labour 9,731,363 33.8% 412 +214 Conservative 6,827,112 23.7% 121 −252 Liberal Democrat 3,519,163 12.2% 72 +64 Scottish National Party 724,758 2.5% 9 −38 Other 7,978,717 27.7% 36 +12

Key Players ›

Starmer Becomes U.K. Prime Minister After Labour Party Landslide (3)

Keir Starmer

Prime minister and Labour Party leader

Starmer Becomes U.K. Prime Minister After Labour Party Landslide (4)

Rishi Sunak

Conservative Party leader

Starmer Becomes U.K. Prime Minister After Labour Party Landslide (5)

Nigel Farage

Reform U.K. leader

Starmer Becomes U.K. Prime Minister After Labour Party Landslide (6)

Ed Davey

Liberal Democrats leader

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July 5, 2024, 12:37 p.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 12:37 p.m. ET

Claire Moses

Count Binface and Elmo, both good losers, provided comic relief in Britain’s elections.

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Count Binface, Elmo and a man wearing a balaclava with a baked-beans print have all had their extremely brief moments in the sun in this British election.

As has long been the tradition in Britain, the elections include various joke candidates who often run against prominent politicians. While obviously a bit of comic relief during a serious time, the candidates are still there to make a point: Since the 1970s, they have aimed to highlight and satarize the gap between politics and regular people.

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On election night, these joke candidates share the stage as they learn who is the winner of their constituency. This is how you get photos of the country’s new prime minister shaking hands with a man in an Elmo suit, without even blinking.

It’s also how you get a picture of Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former cabinet minister who lost his seat to a Labour candidate on Thursday, standing next to a man wearing a baked beans balaclava.

And it’s how you get an outgoing prime minister sharing a stage with a man dressed as a garbage can from outer space and Archibald Stanton of The Official Monster Raving Loony Party, holding a ventriloquist’s dummy.

My 2024 General Election Results Speech. pic.twitter.com/BW9KWp3oIN

— Count Binface (@CountBinface) July 5, 2024

Count Binface — a perennial favorite who entered the political scene in 2018 and who lost to Rishi Sunak on Thursday — wasn’t even that unhappy with the results, which had him finishing in sixth place. “My highest ever parliamentary vote,” the self-described space politician wrote on social media.

July 5, 2024, 12:21 p.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 12:21 p.m. ET

Megan Specia

Reporting from London

Who is Angela Rayner, Britain’s deputy prime minister and secretary of state?

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“I’ve never been called timid in my life,” Angela Rayner, a Labour lawmaker, told an audience of British voters during a televised debate last month while laying out her policy priorities.

The deputy leader of the Labour Party, Ms. Rayner, 44, is set to become one of the most powerful women in British politics as her party forms a new government on Friday, ending 14 years of Conservative Party rule.

A straight-talking lawmaker with a warm, direct manner and an at times brutal honesty, Ms. Rayner is considered one of Labour’s most powerful electoral assets in reaching ordinary voters.

Political analysts say she appeals to parts of the public that the new prime minister, Keir Starmer, might otherwise struggle to connect with.

“She can speak to a broad swath of voters, including working-class voters who might not connect to the Starmer project,” said Dr. Lise Butler, a lecturer in Modern History at City, University of London. “I do think that her gender is important. She is appealing. She is clear spoken, and sometimes very frankly spoken.”

Ms. Rayner was named deputy prime minister and the secretary of state for improving housing and communities on Friday, both major roles in the new administration.

In the early hours of Friday morning, after she won her seat in Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester, she paid tribute to “the working class people who are the bedrock of this country" in her victory speech. “There is no greater honor than to serve you,” she said.

While the top political roles in Britain have traditionally been dominated by the country’s elites, with many in power hailing from the same private schools and universities, Ms. Rayner has taken a less traditional route to the top.

She left school at 16 when she was pregnant and later cared for older people and then became a union representative at her workplace.

It was through the trade union movement that she came to politics, rising first through the ranks of the union, before being elected as her constituency’s first female member of Parliament.

She served in prominent political positions under Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader, and is often associated with the more left-leaning wing of the party. In 2020, she was elected as the Labour Party’s deputy leader, and despite some initial tensions with Mr. Starmer, she has thrived in his revamped and more center-left Labour Party.

“She’s very carefully bridged different parts of the party,” said Ms. Butler. “She’s a rare example, I think, of someone who has been able to gain a profile within both the Corbyn leadership and the Starmer leadership.”

But political adversaries and the tabloid press have regularly taken aim at her, something Sarah Childs, a professor of politics and gender at the University of Edinburgh, said is certainly linked to her ascendant political career.

“The fact that she is unapologetic, that she can at times be quite strident, she doesn’t necessarily behave always how some people might want women in public life to behave,” Ms. Childs said. And that “creates a context where critics who want to will take that particular way of behaving and problematize it.”

In 2022, a British tabloid printed a report based on an unnamed Conservative lawmaker’s claim that Ms. Rayner had tried to distract Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Parliament by rearranging her legs, comparing her to Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct.” The article was met with widespread outrage from other lawmakers in parliament, with one saying: “The story is that there is misogyny alive and well and stalking the corridors of the House of Commons.”

Ms. Rayner’s strong northern accent, a clear marker of her upbringing in Stockport, has been mocked by some anti-Labour critics on social media, but it is a point of pride for her.

“I speak like people do where I grew up,” Ms. Rayner wrote on the social media platform X last year. “I want people from backgrounds like mine who’ve been told to ‘know your place’ to know that public life is their place too.”

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July 5, 2024, 11:44 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 11:44 a.m. ET

Nader Ibrahim

Nigel Farage, the leader of the hard-right Reform UK party, was heckled repeatedly by protesters at a news conference in London.

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“On the third of June, I — [heckler interrupting] thank you, mate Where are you from? Where are you from? Oh well, that makes sense. Are you downwind of a couple already? You’ve had a bigger lunch than I’ve had. You must be screaming. As I was saying, on the third of June, I decided that I would not — I decided that I would not. Boring. Boring. Boring. Any more for any more.” Heckler: “Actually, yes.”

Starmer Becomes U.K. Prime Minister After Labour Party Landslide (10)

July 5, 2024, 11:39 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 11:39 a.m. ET

Megan Specia

In Northern Ireland, a party opposed to British authority wins big.

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Sinn Féin, which represents Northern Ireland’s largely Catholic nationalist community and wants the region to reunify with the rest of the island of Ireland as an independent state, won the most seats in Parliament for a political party in Northern Ireland.

It won seven of the region’s 18 seats in Parliament, a once unthinkable victory and the latest sign of its growing success at the polls.

The politics of Northern Ireland, one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom, are never straightforward. A fragile peace in 1990 ended sectarian conflict between unionists — who are largely Protestant and committed to remaining part of the United Kingdom — and nationalists. Much of the modern state’s governance plays out in the shadow of those tensions.

Sinn Féin, once the political branch of the Irish Republican Army, won the most seats at Northern Ireland’s regional assembly in 2022, with Michelle O’Neill becoming the first minister earlier this year. The party also won the most seats at local elections a year later. “You have spoken loud and clear,” Ms. O’Neill said in a statement posted on the social media platform X on Friday afternoon. “Ahead of us is a new and better future for everyone on this island.”

Members of Sinn Féin do not take their seats in Westminster, a symbol of their opposition to British authority in Northern Ireland.

Catholics now outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland, and the religious makeup of the region often is used as a clumsy shorthand for a deep-seated divide of cultural and political perspectives. But expert analysts have pointed to Sinn Féin’s success at the polls as a sign of the fracturing of unionist politics rather than a surge in popular support for the nationalist, or republican, movement.

The win also signals the fracturing of the long-dominant unionist vote, which has become scattered by internal divisions.

In a sign of the fractures, Ian Paisley Jr., a longtime unionist lawmaker from Northern Ireland and son of the firebrand preacher and Protestant leader, narrowly lost his seat in North Antrim to Jim Allister, the leader of the hard-line Traditional Unionist Voice, which has long been seen as a fringe party.

Mr. Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party, founded by his father, had long been the largest unionist political force. Mr. Paisley’s father had first won the same seat in 1970 so there has been an “Ian Paisley” representing the area of County Antrim for the last 54 years.

July 5, 2024, 11:37 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 11:37 a.m. ET

Jenny Gross

Reporting from London

Who is David Lammy, Britain’s foreign new secretary?

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David Lammy, the son of Guyanese immigrants who grew up poor in working-class London, on Friday became Britain’s chief diplomat, taking the lead on British foreign policy at a time of significant challenges.

Mr. Lammy, 51, has deep ties to the United States, having spent summers with relatives in Brooklyn and Queens and earning a master’s degree at Harvard Law School.

He met Barack Obama 20 years ago at a gathering of Black Harvard alumni, and this year he had dinner with the former U.S. president when Mr. Obama visited London. Mr. Lammy canvassed in Chicago for Mr. Obama during his first presidential campaign, and he has developed a deep network of contacts within the Democratic Party.

In an essay in Foreign Affairs magazine published in April, Mr. Lammy wrote that he would focus on rebuilding ties with the European Union, which have been strained by Britain’s decision to leave the bloc, and that his priority was backing Ukraine.

“Above all else, the United Kingdom must continue supporting Ukraine,” he wrote. “The future of European security depends on the outcome of the war there, and the British government must leave the Kremlin with no doubt that it will support Kyiv for as long as it takes to achieve victory.”

The Labour Party has said that its commitment to NATO is “unshakable” and has vowed to raise its military spending from 2.2 percent to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product “as soon as we can.” On the war in Gaza, the party has said it will push for an immediate cease-fire and for the release of Israeli hostages held there.

In an interview with The New York Times this year, Mr. Lammy said that, if he had the privilege of becoming foreign minister, he would be “very conscious that I’ll be the first — it almost makes me emotional as I say it — the first foreign secretary who is the descendant of enslaved people.”

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Starmer Becomes U.K. Prime Minister After Labour Party Landslide (13)

July 5, 2024, 11:03 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 11:03 a.m. ET

Nikolay Nikolov

Mark Landler, the London bureau chief for The New York Times, explains the significance of the historic British election result and why Labour will need to act fast to satisfy a volatile electorate. Watch the video here.

July 5, 2024, 10:48 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 10:48 a.m. ET

Stephen Castle

Reporting from London

Downing Street has announced four more top jobs: David Lammy is foreign secretary, Yvette Cooper is home secretary and John Healey is defense secretary — all carrying over the roles they held in opposition. In addition, Pat McFadden gets a senior cabinet coordinating role (and a fancy title: chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.)

July 5, 2024, 10:35 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 10:35 a.m. ET

Jenny Gross

Reporting from London

Labour wins back the trust of British Jews who had turned away from the party.

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From the day that Keir Starmer became the head of the Labour Party in 2020, he made repairing ties with British Jews a priority, calling antisemitism a “stain” on the party.

On Thursday, many British Jews who had turned away from Labour in the 2019 general election gave the party another chance. Labour won back several North London constituencies with significant Jewish populations.

Nearly half of Jewish voters planned to support the Labour Party in Thursday’s election, according to a poll of 2,717 Jewish adults who responded to the Jewish Current Affairs Survey taken in June, before the election.

Britain’s 287,000 Jews make up less than 0.5 percent of the country’s population, and some of them had been politically homeless under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party’s former leader, who was accused of having let antisemitism flourish within the party. Jewish support for the party under Mr. Corbyn reached a low of 11 percent in the 2019 general election, according to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, which focuses on Jewish life in Europe.

“It’s very clear that Jews have flocked back to what I think to many people has long been their natural political home,” said Jonathan Boyd, the executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, which is based in London.

Sarah Sackman, the Labour candidate for the North London constituency of Finchley and Golders Green, where nearly one in five voters are Jewish, the largest proportion in Britain, was elected on Thursday. Labour candidates in the North London constituencies of Hendon, where 14 percent of voters are Jewish, and Chipping Barnet, where nearly 7 percent of voters are Jewish, also won.

Josh Simons, a Jewish Labour politician who on Thursday was elected to Parliament to represent the constituency of Makerfield, west of Manchester, said Labour’s victories in North London showed that Jewish voters were open to trusting the party again.

“The turnaround in the relationship between the Labour Party and the Jewish community in Britain is fairly extraordinary,” Mr. Simons said, citing Mr. Starmer’s willingness to force out Labour politicians who made antisemitic comments. “The Jewish community saw the choices he made, and that, bit by bit, started to rebuild trust.”

Mr. Starmer, who describes himself as an atheist, is married to Victoria Starmer, who comes from a Jewish family. Mr. Starmer has said that his family occasionally goes to a liberal Jewish synagogue, and he said in an interview with Virgin Radio U.K. that he stops working on Friday nights at 6 p.m. After Conservative politicians criticized him for this, saying he wanted to be a part-time prime minister, Mr. Starmer stood by his comments.

“I would have thought to anybody it’s blindingly obvious that a Friday night is quite important in some religions and faiths,” he said at a campaign event in Derbyshire, England.

In 2020, Mr. Starmer ousted Mr. Corbyn from the party following the release of a report by a British human rights watchdog that found Labour bore responsibility for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” against Jewish members on Mr. Corbyn’s watch. Complaints about Mr. Corbyn included his defending a mural that featured grotesque caricatures of hooknosed Jewish bankers.

After initially suggesting that the party’s problems with antisemitism were overblown, Mr. Corbyn later issued a statement saying that “the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to antisemitism.”

Labour’s surge in support among Jewish voters came as the party appeared to lose support among British Muslims, some of whom criticized Mr. Starmer for taking too long to pledge his commitment to recognizing an independent Palestinian state. At least four constituencies that had been Labour strongholds were on Thursday won by candidates who offered an alternative to Labour’s Gaza policy.

Shockat Adam Patel, an independent candidate in a constituency in Leicester, England, beat Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, who had been expected to hold a cabinet role in Mr. Starmer’s new government. “This is for Gaza,” he said. Mr. Corbyn, who ran as an independent candidate in Islington, won a seat in Parliament from the Labour Party on a platform that focused on Gaza.

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July 5, 2024, 10:32 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 10:32 a.m. ET

Stephen Castle

Reporting from London

Now comes confirmation from Downing Street that Rachel Reeves will be chancellor of the Exchequer, or finance minister. She is the first woman to hold that post and her appointment had been widely expected.

July 5, 2024, 10:31 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 10:31 a.m. ET

Eshe Nelson

Reporting from London

Who is Rachel Reeves, the woman soon to take the helm of Britain’s economy?

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Rachel Reeves became Britain’s first female chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday, taking on one of the country’s four great offices of state, with responsibility for managing Britain’s budget.

After a decade and a half of economic stagnation, Ms. Reeves, a Labour lawmaker with a reputation as a serious and steady manager, faces the tough jobs of boosting Britain’s productivity growth, a key measure of prosperity, and of reviving struggling public services.

“I know the scale of the challenge that I’m likely to inherit,” Ms. Reeves told the BBC early Friday. “There’s not a huge amount of money there,” she said, adding that the party needed to unlock private investment.

Ms. Reeves is expected to approach her new role with deliberation.

“Labour has come a long way to regain the trust of people on their economic record and she doesn’t want to risk that,” Carys Roberts, the director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, said.

For example, Labour has moved to more centrist policies in recent years, following former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing program of higher spending and widespread nationalization of industries.

Ms. Reeves, 45, was elected to Parliament in 2010 in the northern city of Leeds. In a bid to prove her credibility, she has frequently referred to her traditional training as an economist during six years working at the Bank of England after college.

She has emphasized her goal of creating stability after a period of international and homegrown economic shocks, including a surge in energy prices and the premiership of Liz Truss, who lasted only 49 days in office after her tax cut proposals roiled financial markets.

Ms. Reeves calls her economic agenda “securonomics,” a dull-sounding portmanteau that reflects her already earnest reputation. She once told The Guardian that if you want “cartwheels” to turn to someone else.

She has described “securonomics” as ensuring Britain’s economic security in a world that is fragmenting, while also ensuring the security of working people’s finances. It is inspired by the policies of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

But the call for stability is also a sign that Britons shouldn’t expect quick or drastic changes in the handling of the economy.

Amid high debt levels and relatively high taxes, Ms. Reeves has vowed not to raise corporate, personal income or V.A.T. taxes and to adhere to strict debt rules. Given these restraints, she hopes that stability will induce much-needed economic growth.

In practice, that is expected to mean giving more power to institutions, like the fiscal watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility, and working more closely with businesses to encourage them to ramp up private investment.

“Labour are pinning a lot on the hope of economic growth, including relying on growth to enable them to spend more on services,” Ms. Roberts said.

July 5, 2024, 10:23 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 10:23 a.m. ET

Stephen Castle

Reporting from London

Keir Starmer has announced his first Cabinet appointment: Angela Rayner will be deputy prime minister with a portfolio in the cabinet including housing and communities, Downing Street said.

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July 5, 2024, 9:06 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 9:06 a.m. ET

Eshe Nelson

Reporting from London

With four new seats in Parliament, the Greens take a bite out of Labour’s vote.

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It might look small compared with Britain’s dominant parties, but for the Green Party, the elections results were big: The small, left-wing party will now have four members of Parliament, its best ever electoral result.

For years, the party, which has campaigned on pro-environmental policies, has struggled to increase its foothold in Parliament. Since 2010, it has had just one member of Parliament, who did not run in this election.

But this year, some voters appeared to be turning away from the two main parties, Labour and the Conservatives, as more seats went to smaller parties and independent candidates. The Greens’ co-leaders, Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay, won seats on Thursday. That dealt a small blow to the new Labour government, which, under Keir Starmer, has moved to the political center.

Ms. Denyer unseated Thangam Debbonaire, Labour’s lawmaker in charge of arts and culture, and told the BBC that some people voted for the Greens because they were “frustrated by Labour sliding ever closer to the Conservatives.”

Mr. Ramsay vowed that the Greens would “be pushing the government to be bolder.” In its most recent manifesto, the party said it wanted to implement a wealth tax, build more social housing and make the railways, water companies and major energy companies publicly owned.

Just under two million people cast votes for the Greens, giving them seven percent of the vote share nationally. The party tends to be relatively popular among younger people, particularly those under 30.

July 5, 2024, 8:39 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 8:39 a.m. ET

Stephen Castle

Reporting from London

Starmer vows ‘national renewal’ in his first speech as prime minister.

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‘My Government Will Serve You,’ Starmer Says

During Keir Starmer’s first speech as the British prime minister, he said that the country had voted for a “national renewal and a return of politics to public service.”

I have just returned from Buckingham Palace, where I accepted an invitation from His Majesty the King to form the next government of this great nation. I want to thank the outgoing prime minister, Rishi Sunak. His achievement as the first British Asian prime minister of our country — the extra effort that that will have required should not be underestimated. But now our country has voted decisively for change, for national renewal and a return of politics to public service. My government will serve you. Politics can be a force for good. We will show that. We’ve changed the Labour Party, returned it to service. And that is how we will govern. Country first, party second.

Starmer Becomes U.K. Prime Minister After Labour Party Landslide (21)

In his first speech to the nation as prime minister, Keir Starmer said that Britain had “voted decisively for change, for national renewal,” and promised to lead a pragmatic government that would restore hope and the nation’s faith in politics and public service.

Speaking outside No. 10 Downing Street under cloudy afternoon skies, Mr. Starmer began by praising his predecessor, Rishi Sunak, who had given his own brief farewell remarks from the same spot a couple of hours earlier, before turning to his own ambitions.

“We need to move forward together,” Mr. Starmer said. He acknowledged the challenges ahead, nodding to the fractured vote that delivered Labour its biggest parliamentary majority in decades, but a low voter turnout that reflected disillusionment with Britain’s politics and economic problems.

“Have no doubt that the work of change begins immediately,” he said.

The Labour Party leader’s car arrived in Downing Street from Buckingham Palace, where moments earlier King Charles III had invited him to form a government. Before speaking, flanked by his wife, Victoria, Mr. Starmer thanked jubilant supporters, many waving British flags, in an echo of the welcome given to the last Labour leader to defeat the Conservatives in a general election: Tony Blair in 1997.

Mr. Starmer mentioned few specific policies in his remarks, talking of a government “unburdened by doctrine,” pledging to work pragmatically for all Britons, unite the nation and govern with respect and humility.

“Whether you voted Labour or not — in fact, especially if you did not — I say to you directly: ‘My government will serve you,’” he said. “Politics can be a force for good. We will show that.”

Britons, he said, had given his party “a clear mandate, and we will use it to deliver change to restore service and respect to politics, end the era of noisy performance, tread more lightly on your lives and unite our country.”

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July 5, 2024, 8:27 a.m. ET

July 5, 2024, 8:27 a.m. ET

Stephen Castle

Reporting from London

The Lib Dems, riding their leader’s viral appeal, make big gains.

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He bungee jumped from 160 feet, rode a stomach-churning roller coaster, plunged down a water slide and toppled into a lake while attempting to paddleboard.

As leader of the Liberal Democrats, a small, centrist party, Ed Davey spared himself few indignities to secure news media coverage during a British election campaign dominated by bigger parties.

The appearances, alongside Mr. Davey’s heartfelt reflections on caring for his disabled son, have lifted his profile and that of the Lib Dems, who made significant advances in this election. The party won 71 seats, its best showing in a century, regaining its stature as the third largest party in Parliament.

As recently as the 2015 election, the party’s hold in Parliament had been reduced to eight seats.

Had an amazing day out at @thorpepark today!

I didn’t expect to spend half the time upside down on the roller coasters, but it was a blast! 🎢 pic.twitter.com/iHrPd2Hxry

— Ed Davey (@EdwardJDavey) June 10, 2024

In a statement, Mr. Davey, 58, said the striking reversal was the product of a “positive campaign with health and care at its heart.”

“I am humbled by the millions of people who backed us to both kick the Conservatives out of power and deliver the change our country needs,” Mr. Davey wrote on social media.

A significant driver of Lib Dem support seems to have come from voters in normally safe Conservative seats, who wanted to get the governing party out and found Mr. Davey’s centrist party more palatable than the center-left Labour Party.

The Lib Dems seized on the Conservatives’ vulnerability and challenged them in dozens of parliamentary constituencies, particularly in their southern England heartland. There, they sought to persuade supporters of other parties to lend their votes to a Lib Dem candidate to help defeat the Tory incumbent, a strategy that paid dividends.

Mr. Davey’s viral moments weren’t all stunts. In a moving social media post viewed more than 6.5 million times, Mr. Davey also shined a light on the lives of those caring for others by describing the challenges and rewards of looking after his disabled 16-year-old son.

Leading a party that made health and social care big priorities during the campaign, Mr. Davey also talked about his childhood — how his own father died when he was 4, leaving his mother to raise three boys under 10, until she was stricken with breast cancer just a few years later.

“My little brother and I nursed her until she died when I was 15, so I was a young carer,” he said in one interview.

It has been a long road back to political relevance for the Lib Dems, Britain’s most pro-European party, who are still recovering from their decision to enter a coalition government with the Conservatives in 2010, a time of steep spending cuts after the global financial crisis. The party enraged students by reneging on a pre-election promise to abolish tuition fees — instead increasing them — and was then punished by voters unhappy at reductions in public services.

In 2010, there were 57 Lib Dem members of Parliament. At the last general election, in 2019, the party won 11 seats.

Mr. Davey has come in for some criticism because he was a minister in the coalition government with the Conservatives during a devastating scandal in which hundreds of people who ran branches of the Post Office across Britain were wrongly accused of theft after a faulty IT system recorded shortfalls in their accounting.

The Lib Dem leader has since apologized for not doing more to investigate the scandal, saying he was sorry he “did not see through the Post Office’s lies.”

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