Keir Starmer holds first cabinet meeting as PM says Labour has a 'huge amount of work to do'

6 July 2024, 01:56 | Updated: 6 July 2024, 12:03

Keir Starmer holds first cabinet meeting as PM says Labour has a 'huge amount of work to do'
Keir Starmer holds first cabinet meeting as PM says Labour has a 'huge amount of work to do'. Picture: Alamy

By Danielle de Wolfe and Emma Soteriou

Keir Starmer held his first cabinet meeting as prime minister on Saturday - hours after appointing his new cabinet following Labour's landslide general election victory.

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Incoming Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner arrived early at a rainy Downing Street, as the pair joined Starmer following the formation of the first Labour government in 14 years.

It follows Keir Starmer's decision to name Angela Rayner his deputy and Rachel Reeves the UK's first female chancellor, with the PM making few changes to his top team.

Pictures show Starmer's new cabinet sat around the table in Number 10, as the first meeting got underway.

Speaking to his top team of ministers, the PM said: "Colleagues, it is absolutely fantastic to welcome you to the cabinet, our first meeting.

"And it was the honour and privilege of my life to be invited by the King, His Majesty the King, yesterday to form a government and to form the Labour government of 2024. 

"And now we hold our first cabinet meeting."

"So I welcome you to it - we have a huge amount of work to do, so now we get on with our work," Sir Keir Starmer declared.
"So I welcome you to it - we have a huge amount of work to do, so now we get on with our work," Sir Keir Starmer declared. Picture: Pool

"So I welcome you to it - we have a huge amount of work to do, so now we get on with our work," he added.

Ms Rayner was among a raft of Labour MPs to arrive at Number 10 on Friday afternoon - with Downing Street later confirming she would take on the role of Levelling Up secretary.

His new cabinet now contains the highest number of state-educated and female ministers in British history, with Rachel Reeves appointed the first female chancellor.

Read more: General Election LIVE - Britain Decides: Angela Rayner appointed deputy prime minister as PM unveils cabinet

Read more: ‘Now we rebuild Britain’: Triumphant Keir Starmer delivers first speech as Prime Minister as he vows to deliver change

It comes as Starmer faced criticism after appointing lawyer Richard Hermer KC as the new Attorney General, in an apparent snub to Emily Thornberry.

Starmer's list of appointments coincides with the PM's plan to tackle economic challenges, the migrant crisis and junior doctor strikes.

Saturday also saw Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton claim victory in the final undeclared election seat after two recounts in the constituency, as another recount was set to begin at 10.30am.

Taking to Twitter formerly X, Mr Cole-Hamilton posted: "Now the SNP have conceded Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire".

Deputy PM Angela Rayner sat to Sir Keir Starmer's left and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to his right
Deputy PM Angela Rayner sat to Sir Keir Starmer's left and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to his right. Picture: Alamy

Shortly after, Rachel Reeves was confirmed as chancellor, becoming the first woman to take the role in British history.

David Lammy was appointed as foreign secretary, Yvette Cooper as home secretary, John Healey as defence secretary and Wes Streeting as health secretary.

Ed Miliband was appointed as secretary of state for energy security and net zero, Bridget Phillipson as education secretary and Shabana Mahmood as justice secretary.

Speaking to Treasury staff following her appointment, Ms Reeves vowed to boost economic growth, highlighting it as her "central mission" as chancellor.

Meanwhile, Ms Cooper said she planned on setting up a "Border Security Command" to deal with the ongoing migrants crisis.

It comes as Labour intends to abandon the Rwanda plan, using the money saved to fund the project.

Health secretary Wes Streeting has also been busy, delivering on his promise to call junior doctors in England on "day one" of a Labour Government.

He said negotiations over pay would resume as early as next week.

"I have just spoken over the phone with the BMA (British Medical Association) junior doctors committee, and I can announce that talks to end their industrial action will begin next week," Mr Streeting said in a statement.

"We promised during the campaign that we would begin negotiations as a matter of urgency, and that is what we are doing."

Rachel Reeves has been appointed as chancellor.
Rachel Reeves has been appointed as chancellor. Picture: Alamy

After the first batch of cabinet announcements on Friday, veteran Labour MP Pat McFadden was announced as the new chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster.

Liz Kendall was then named as Work and Pensions Secretary and Jonathan Reynolds as Business and Trade Secretary and the president of the Board of Trade.

The new Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology is Peter Kyle and Louise Haigh was made Transport Secretary, with all retaining the roles they held in the shadow cabinet.

Reacting to her appointment, Rachel Reeves described it as "the honour of my life" and a sign for all women and girls that there should be "no limit to your ambitions."

In a post on X, Rachel Reeves said: "It is the honour of my life to have been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer.

"Economic growth was the Labour Party's mission. It is now a national mission.

"Let's get to work."

Meanwhile, David Lammy said on X: "It is the honour of my life to be appointed Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.

"The world faces huge challenges, but we will navigate them with the UK's enormous strengths.

It comes after Sir Keir delivered his first speech as Prime Minister outside Number 10 earlier on Friday.

He vowed to put the “country first, party second” and start work to deliver change “immediately”.

Yvette Cooper was confirmed as home secretary.
Yvette Cooper was confirmed as home secretary. Picture: Alamy

Sir Keir said this afternoon: “We need to move forward together. Now this wound, this lack of trust can only be healed by actions, not words, I know that. But we can make a start today with the simple acknowledgement that public service is a privilege and that your government should treat every single person in this country with respect."

He also made a direct appeal to those who did not vote Labour in Thursday's election, as he added: “We will carry the responsibility of your trust as we rebuild our country. But whether you voted Labour or not, in fact especially if you did not, I say to you directly my government will serve you. Politics can be a force for good, we will show that. We’ve changed the Labour party.”

Sir Keir declared "we did it" as Labour swept to power following the General Election, as senior Tories including Liz Truss and Jacob Rees-Mogg lost their seats.

Speaking in central London, Prime Minister Keir Starmer said: "We did it. You campaigned for it, you fought for it, you voted for it, and now it has arrived: change begins now."It feels good, I have to be honest. Four and a half years of work changing the party, this is is what it is for: a changed Labour Party ready to serve our country, ready to restore Britain to the service of working people.

"And across our country, people will be waking up to the news, relief that a weight has been lifted, a burden finally removed from the shoulders of this great nation.

"And now we can look forward, walk into the morning, the sunlight of hope, pale at first but getting stronger through the day, shining once again, on a country with the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back."

Keir Starmer gave a speech outside Number 10 earlier on Friday.
Keir Starmer gave a speech outside Number 10 earlier on Friday. Picture: Alamy
Rishi Sunak said he called Sir Keir to congratulate him on the victory.
Rishi Sunak said he called Sir Keir to congratulate him on the victory. Picture: Alamy

Sir Keir's speech came shortly after Rishi Sunak conceded defeat in Richmond, Yorkshire, where he won his seat with a 13,000-seat majority.

"The Labour Party has won this general election, and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory," Mr Sunak said.

The latest results indicate Labour has won more than 400, with the Tories slumping to around around 120, with only two seats left to declare.

Several senior Tories lost their seats in the election, among them former Prime Minister Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan and Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt.

Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, Transport Secretary Mark Harper, Chief Whip Simon Hart, Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk, former Environment Secretary Therese Coffey and former Brexit Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg also lost their seats.

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