New UK PM vows to end despair brought on by Conservative rule

New UK PM vows to end despair brought on by Conservative rule
Britain’s new prime minister, Keir StarmerPhoto by AP

LONDON — Britain’s new prime minister, Keir Starmer, vowed Friday to reverse the hopelessness that grew over 14 years of Conservative rule and said he would lead an urgent mission of national renewal after his Labour Party’s landslide victory.

It will be a tall order.

Rising poverty, crumbling infrastructure, a lagging economy and an overstretched National Health Service contributed to widespread dissatisfaction and gripes about “broken Britain.” The resulting defeat was the worst ever for Conservatives.

“Have no doubt that we will rebuild Britain,” Starmer said in his first official remarks as supporters cheered and waved union jack flags outside 10 Downing St. “Brick by brick we will rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity.”

Starmer said it would take time, but his government would get the NHS “back on its feet,” secure the borders, improve public safety and cut electric bills — while relying on homegrown clean energy.

Among the crowd of people who gathered to watch the changing of government was David McKeever, who said Starmer needed to quickly provide the details of his plans that were often lacking during the campaign.

“From today onwards, Keir Starmer is going to have to come up with some actual policies and implement them,’’ McKeever said. “We’ll know in time what we’re dealing with. But yeah, clearly the Tories had set such a monumentally low bar, you could have fallen over it.”

Before Starmer arrived at No. 10, his predecessor, Rishi Sunak, bid farewell in a reflective speech from the same spot where he called for the snap election that led to his ouster.

“I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss,” Sunak said. “To all the Conservative candidates and campaigners who worked tirelessly but without success, I’m sorry that we could not deliver what your efforts deserved.”

Sunak’s party, which has been wracked by scandals, turbulent leadership changes and global problems out of its control, suffered its biggest defeat in its two-century history.

With results tallied for all but one constituency, Labour had won 412 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons. The Conservatives had only 121 — down from 365 seats in 2019. The drubbing surpassed even the 1906 election in which they won just 156 seats.

The Tory reign was marked by Britain’s messy divorce from the European Union, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, all of which battered the economy. / AP

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