Keir Starmer’s New Cabinet Holds First Meeting as UK Prime Minister

LONDON — Prime Minister Keir Starmer convened his first Cabinet meeting on Saturday, marking the beginning of his new government’s efforts to tackle a multitude of domestic challenges and restore public faith following years of austerity, political turmoil, and a struggling economy.

Starmer, gathering his ministers at 10 Downing Street, expressed his deep honor in being appointed by King Charles III to form a government, a ceremony that officially elevated him to the role of prime minister.

“We have a significant amount of work ahead of us, so now we commence our duties,” he stated.

Starmer’s Labour Party achieved a resounding victory on Friday, delivering the most significant defeat for the Conservatives in their two-century history, propelled by a platform of change.

Among the myriad of problems they confront are revitalizing a sluggish economy, addressing a failing healthcare system, and rebuilding trust in government.

“Just because Labour secured a landslide victory doesn’t mean that all the issues the Conservative government has faced have disappeared,” remarked Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London.

In his initial remarks as prime minister on Friday, following the “kissing of hands” ceremony with Charles at Buckingham Palace, Starmer declared his immediate commitment to action, though he cautioned that demonstrating results would take time.

“Transforming a nation isn’t as simple as flipping a switch,” he emphasized as enthusiastic supporters cheered him outside his new official residence at 10 Downing. “This will require time. But have no doubt that the work of change commences — immediately.”

His schedule in the aftermath of the six-week campaign traversing the four nations of the U.K. will be packed.

He is set to travel to Washington next week for a NATO meeting and will host the European Political Community summit on July 18, the day following the state opening of Parliament and the King’s Speech, which outlines the new government’s agenda.

Starmer highlighted several key priorities on Friday, such as reforming the esteemed yet ailing National Health Service and securing the country’s borders, a reference to a broader global issue encompassing Europe and the U.S. of managing an influx of migrants fleeing conflict, poverty, as well as drought, heat waves, and floods attributed to climate change.

Conservatives struggled to curtail the flow of migrants arriving across the English Channel, failing to fulfill ex-Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s promise to “stop the boats.”

Starmer has stated his intention to scrap the Conservatives’ contentious plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda. The plan had incurred hundreds of millions of pounds (dollars) without a single flight taking off.

“Labour will need to find a solution to the issue of small boats crossing the channel,” Bale observed. “They’re going to abandon the Rwanda scheme, but they’ll have to come up with alternative solutions to address that specific problem.”

Suella Braverman, a Conservative hardliner on immigration who is a potential contender to succeed Sunak as party leader, criticized Starmer’s plan to end the Rwanda pact.

“Years of diligent work, legislative actions, and millions of pounds spent on a scheme that, if properly implemented, would have been effective,” she asserted on Saturday. “There are significant problems on the horizon that, I fear, will be caused by Keir Starmer.”

Starmer’s Cabinet is also getting to work.

Foreign Secretary David Lammy is scheduled to embark on his first international trip on Saturday, meeting with counterparts in Germany, Poland, and Sweden to emphasize the importance of their relationship.

Health Secretary Wes Streeting has announced the commencement of new negotiations next week with NHS doctors at the start of their careers, who have staged a series of multi-day strikes. The pay dispute has exacerbated the long wait for appointments that have become a hallmark of the NHS’s challenges.