July 17, 2024

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King Charles appoints Keir Starmer as UK PM after outgoing Rishi Sunak steps down

King Charles appoints Keir Starmer as UK PM after outgoing Rishi Sunak steps down

The British people delivered a clear and devastating message to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Thursday’s general election, ending 14 years of Conservative rule with the party’s worst electoral result in its 200-year history. As the scale of his crushing defeat by Labour leader Keir Starmer became clear, Sunak began his departure on Friday with an apology.

“I will be meeting Her Majesty shortly to tender my resignation as Prime Minister,” Sunak said outside 10 Downing Street on Friday before heading to Buckingham Palace for a private meeting with King Charles III. “I want to say to the country first and foremost: I am sorry. I have done my best in this job, but you have sent a clear signal that the UK government must change, and that your judgment is the only one that matters. I have heard your anger and your disappointment, and I take responsibility for that loss.”

With most constituencies counted, Labour is expected to win power with at least 412 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons. But under these circumstances, Britain faces a series of inevitable red tape that the country must pass through before a new prime minister can officially take office.

Technically, the monarch has the final say on who becomes prime minister of the British government — officially called “His Majesty’s Government” — although his assent to the post is largely ceremonial under Britain’s constitutional monarchy. However, the trips to the palace by the outgoing and incoming prime ministers are heavily covered by the British media, with television helicopters following their cars as they make their way to the palace gates to hand over power in a highly symbolic handover.

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Friday was the first time Charles has confirmed a new prime minister after a general election. However, Starmer will be Charles’s third since the monarch began his reign less than two years ago. The first was Liz Truss — the disastrously inept Conservative leader who lasted less than two months in office after sparking an economic crisis. Truss, who was appointed prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II two days before the monarch’s death, lost her parliamentary seat in Thursday’s election — the first former prime minister to do so in nearly 90 years.

But today, humiliation fell to Sunak. Shortly after leaving the palace, Starmer entered a private audience with Charles in a ceremony known as “kissing the hands.” It is doubtful that any hands were actually kissed during the closed-door interview, but a photograph showed the Queen and the new prime minister side by side, underlining Starmer’s status. The new prime minister then travelled to Downing Street.

It was the first time British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak conceded defeat, as he won his seat in Parliament. Independent candidate Niko Omilana had prepared an “L” for the event.

Timilad Adelaja

After greeting crowds of flag-waving supporters outside Downing Street, Starmer made his first speech as prime minister outside the famous black door of his new home. He said: “I have just returned from Buckingham Palace, where I accepted an invitation from Her Majesty the King to form the next government of this great nation.”

Starmer used his speech to praise Sunak for his “achievement as Britain’s first Asian prime minister” before saying that “fatigue” had set in at the heart of the nation. “This wound, this lack of trust, can only be healed by actions, not words,” Starmer said. He later added: “I call on you all to join this government of service in the task of national renewal,” Starmer said. “Our work is urgent, and we start it today.”

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In addition to his car as prime minister, Starmer will also get the keys to the flat that has been Sunak’s home for the past two years. Reported Hundreds of people gathered outside No 10 early on Friday morning, where the Tory estate will be moved away to allow his Labour successor to move in quickly, a rapid and brutal process that characterises the astonishing speed with which Britain replaces its rulers.

British Prime Minister Keir Starmer reacts, at No. 10 Downing Street, following the election results.


British Prime Minister Keir Starmer reacts, at No. 10 Downing Street, following the election results.

Kevin Coombs/Reuters

Now the Conservatives can begin the painful search for how they got here. While Labour won a landslide victory almost as big as Tony Blair’s 1997 victory, the results show that the British public is more eager to get rid of the Conservatives than to install Labour specifically. The Conservatives have suffered a catastrophic 20-point drop in support since the last election in 2019 – with Labour enjoying a slight increase in support.

Instead, Labour’s victory appears to have been driven by a surge in support for Nigel Farage’s hard-right Reform Party, which has been eroding the Conservative vote share across the UK (Donald Trump has publicly declared he will win the election). here This goal has also been helped by the collapse of support for the scandal-plagued Scottish National Party in Scotland, as well as a surge in support for the centrist Liberal Democrats, who look set to win their highest number of seats in more than a century.

Labour’s standing has also been boosted by Sunak’s poor campaign. It started badly, getting wet when he announced the election in the pouring rain without an umbrella, and has only gotten worse from there. Sunak was forced to apologise last month after abandoning VE Day commemorations early to film a TV interview, and has even found himself dealing with a fresh election betting scandal just days before the national vote.

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Sunak also confirmed in his speech on Friday that he would also resign as Conservative leader. “Not immediately,” he said. “But once formal arrangements are in place to choose my successor.” Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murthy — the daughter of a man who co-founded a technology company now worth $81 billion — stood faithfully behind her husband as he delivered a short eulogy on his premiership. She held an umbrella, just in case.

Outgoing British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds hands with his wife Akshata Murthy as they leave Downing Street

The swift and brutal end to the British prime minister’s rule was evident on Friday when Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy left his official residence hand in hand.

Toby Melville/Reuters

The Tory attack also saw eight ministers lose their seats, including Commons leader Penny Mordaunt and Grant Shapps, the defence secretary. Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, managed to keep his seat by less than 900 votes. But Hunt and his family –And their dogDepartures from Downing Street began on Friday morning, leaving Terminal 11 for the final time on another rainy morning in London.

“We can look forward again, and walk into the morning,” Starmer said in a speech after his historic victory was confirmed in the early hours of the morning. “The light of hope – initially fading – grows stronger as the day goes on, shining once more on a country that has the chance, after 14 years, to reclaim its future.”