Tinubu, EU, world leaders salute new UK PM, Starmer

The European Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and world leaders, including French President, Emmanuel Macron, and President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, among others felicitated the newly-elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Keir Starmer, on his victory at the just-concluded general elections.

This is as his centre-left Labour party got a landslide victory, ending the 14 years of conservative rule in the country.

Starmer became the party’s first PM since Gordon Brown in 2010 and had been asked by King Charles III to form a government during a meeting at Buckingham Palace on Friday.

“The work for change begins immediately,” Starmer said in a speech outside 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence. “We will rebuild Britain. …. Brick by brick, we will rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity.”

Starmer also vowed to ‘rebuild Britain’ Party’s landslide general election victory that ended 14 years of Conservative rule.

Flag-waving crowds of cheering Labour activists lined Downing Street as Starmer arrived on Friday.

“Now, our country has voted decisively for change, for national renewal and a return of politics to public service.

“The work of change begins immediately, but have no doubt, we will rebuild Britain,” he said in his first speech in the role.

Labour raced past the 326 seats needed to secure an overall majority in the 650-seat House of Commons at 0400 GMT, with the final result expected on Saturday.

As of 1200 GMT on Friday, the party had won 412 seats in the House of Commons with only two results left to declare, giving it a majority of more than 170.

The Tories won just 121 seats – a record low – with the right-wing vote spliced by Nigel Farage’s anti-immigration Reform UK party.

In another boost for the centrists, the smaller opposition Liberal Democrats ousted the Scottish National Party as the third-biggest party.

Sunak tendered his resignation to the king shortly after returning to London from his constituency in northern England, where the depth of his party’s defeat quickly became apparent.

The Tories’ worst previous election result was 156 seats in 1906.

Former leader of the party, William Hague, told Times Radio that the result was “a catastrophic result in historic terms.”

However, a Professor of Politics at Queen Mary, University of London, Tim Bale, speaking with AFP, said it was “not as catastrophic as some were predicting,” and the Tories would now need to decide how best to fight back.

Right-wing former Interior Minister, Suella Braverman, said the Tories failed because they had not listened to the British people.

But Brexit champion Farage, who finally succeeded in becoming an MP at the eighth attempt, has made no secret of his aim to take over the party.

“There is a massive gap on the centre-right of British politics and my job is to fill it,” he said after a comfortable win in Clacton, eastern England.

Labour’s resurgence is a stunning turnaround from five years ago when hard-left former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, took the party to its worst defeat since 1935 in an election dominated by Brexit.

Starmer took over in early 2020 and set about moving the party back to the centre, making it a more electable proposition and purging the infighting and anti-semitism that cost it.

Opinion polls consistently put Labour 20 points ahead of the Tories since Truss’s resignation, giving an air of inevitability about a Labour win — the first since Tony Blair in 2005.

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But as the count neared the end, the gap was around 11 per cent, with Labour looking set to win fewer votes than it did in 2019, partly reflecting a lower turnout.

Starmer is facing a daunting to-do list, with economic growth anaemic, public services overstretched and underfunded due to swingeing cuts, and households squeezed financially.

He has also promised a return to political integrity, after a chaotic period of five Tory PMs in 14 years, scandal and sleaze.

Sunak apologises

Meanwhile, Sunak, on Friday apologised to the public after his Conservatives were trounced by Labour in the general election.

He added that he would step down as party leader.

The 44-year-old former financier gambled on going to the country six months before he had to, hoping that better economic data would swing public support back towards the Tories.

But Thursday’s vote indicated that Britons wanted to send a clear message to the party by kicking them out of power after 14 years of economic hardship, Brexit upheaval and Tory infighting.

“To the country, I would like to say first and foremost, I am sorry,” he said outside the Prime Minister’s residence at Downing Street, before heading to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation as prime minister to King Charles III.

“I have given this job my all, but you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change. And yours is the only judgment that matters.

“I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss,” Sunak added.

The scale of the defeat made it inevitable that Sunak — the conservative party’s fifth leader since 2010 — would have to step down as Tory head as well.

But he said that he would stay on in the role until the arrangements were made for an internal leadership contest, which is expected to be a fight for the ideological soul of the party.

Sunak saw a record number of his top ministerial team lose their seats, including Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, and House of Commons leader, Penny Mordaunt.

His immediate predecessor as PM, Liz Truss, also lost her seat.

Sunak, an observant Hindu who is Britain’s first PM of colour, wished his successor, Keir Starmer, well, calling him “a decent, public-spirited man who I respect.”

New appointments

Kicking off his government, Starmer on Friday made his first set of appointments into the cabinet.

He appointed Angela Rayner Deputy Prime Minister; Rachel Reeves as Chancellor and David Lammy as Foreign Secretary.

Others include Yvette Cooper who was appointed Home Secretary; Pat McFadden, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; Shabana Mahmood as Justice Secretary; Wes Streeting, Health Secretary; Bridget Phillipson as Education Secretary;  Ed Miliband as Energy Secretary; Peter Kyle as Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary; Louise Haigh  as Transport Secretary and  Liz Kendall as Work and Pensions Secretary.

He also appointed Jonathan Reynolds as Business and Trade Secretary; John Healey as Defence Secretary; Steve Reed as Environment Secretary; Lisa Nandy as Culture, Media and Sport Secretary; Hilary Benn as Northern Ireland Secretary; Ian Murray as Scotland Secretary; and Jo Stevens as Wales Secretary.

World leaders celebrate

Celebrating the new PM, French President, Emmanuel Macron, wrote on X, “Pleased with our first discussion. We will continue the work begun with the UK for our bilateral cooperation, for peace and security in Europe, for the climate and for AI.”

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Irish Prime Minister, Simon Harris said, “Keir Starmer has brought the Labour party a comprehensive victory. The relationship between Ireland and the UK is deeply consequential for all people across these islands.

“I look forward to early engagement with the incoming Prime Minister.”

Also pouring encomiums, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, wrote, “Ukraine and the United Kingdom have been and will continue to be reliable allies through thick and thin. We will continue to defend and advance our common values of life, freedom, and a rules-based international order.”

NATO, EU too

NATO’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, wrote, “He’s a strong supporter of NATO, of the transatlantic alliance.”

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen,  wrote on X, “I look forward to working with you in a constructive partnership to address common challenges and strengthen European security.”

European Council President, Charles Michel, congratulating Starmer, wrote in a statement,“The European Union and the UK are crucial partners, cooperating in all areas of mutual interest for our citizens. I look forward to working with you and your government in this new cycle for the UK.”

Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, told Albanese reporters that his government had a “strong relationship between our two countries”.

He added, “[…] But in Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner and so many others who I am very familiar with in the British Labour Party, I look forward very much to working with them.

“They have very similar views to us on a range of issues. I’m sure we’ll work closely on AUKUS, where we worked very closely as well with the former government.”

Also congratulating Starmer, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, wrote on X, “Lots of work ahead to build a more progressive, fair future for people on both sides of the Atlantic. Let’s get to it, my friend.”

India, Norway, Finland

“Heartiest congratulations and best wishes to @Keir_Starmer on the remarkable victory,” India’s Modi wrote on X. “I look forward to our positive and constructive collaboration … fostering mutual growth and prosperity.”

Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, wrote on X, “I look forward to working together with him [Starmer] and his new government to bring our hostages home, to build a better future for the region, and to deepen the close friendship between Israel and the United Kingdom.”

Also, Norwegian Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Store, told NTB News Agency, “Voters have given the British Labour Party a historically strong mandate to change its course, give people in Great Britain more money in their pockets and strengthen state schools and the National Health Service. I wish Starmer the very best and good luck with a very important job.”

Finnish Prime Minister, Petteri Orpo,  also wrote on X, “The UK is amongst Finland’s most important security and economic partners. I look forward to continuing our close cooperation and deepening the excellent relations between our countries,” Orpo posted on X.

Tinubu, Obi, Abure celebrate new PM

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu has congratulated the new PM.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, on Friday, the President said as a former leader of the opposition in Nigeria, he noted the determination and courage the incoming Prime Minister of the UK demonstrated throughout his years in the opposition and as the leader of the Labour Party.

The President stated that the party’s ability to reform, mobilise, and position itself for victory after 14 years affirmed the leadership qualities of Starmer.

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“President Tinubu also congratulates the citizens and the government of the United Kingdom, describing the Kingdom as an abiding model of democracy and Nigeria’s long-standing partner.

“The President looks forward to deepening relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom in mutual areas of interest and in strengthening democratic institutions, as well as in building a safer and more prosperous future for the people of both countries.”

“I also hope that your government will promote stronger ties between the UK and Nigeria, and help in deepening our own democracy, especially during the challenging times that our nation is going through.

“Nigeria is grappling with issues such as insecurity, education, healthcare, and poverty, and could greatly benefit from the support of the UK. Let us work together to build a brighter future commonwealth for all. I wish you a successful tenure,” the statement added.

Also, the National Chairman of the Labour Party, Julius Abure, congratulated the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Sir Keir Starmer, following his landslide victory at the general election.

This was contained in his congratulatory message issued in Abuja on Friday.

Abure, who had earlier predicted the UK Labour Party win, said the victory coming after the Conservative leadership’s failure to deliver on its mandate is a constant reminder that the will of the people will always prevail.

He said, “As Labour UK takes over the mantle of leadership today, we celebrate this victory and congratulate the people of the United Kingdom for coming out to speak with their voice.

“I am optimistic that Sir Starmer will deploy his wealth of experience in handling the economic challenges in the UK, particularly the migration and unemployment crises in the country.

“We are also hoping that the bilateral relationship between the UK and Nigeria will improve more under the Labour government. It is our hope that the Labour Party in Nigeria and UK Labour will continue to collaborate in the area of policy coordination and evaluation.”

Meanwhile,  a former Governor of Anambra State, and presidential candidate of the Labour Party in Nigeria’s 2023 General Elections, Mr Peter Obi, has congratulated the United Kingdom Labour Party and its leader, Keir Starmer for recording a historic victory.

The opposition party won a huge parliamentary majority in the country’s general election, unseating the incumbent Conservatives after 14 years.

Obi, who reacted to the development via his official X account on Friday, described the victory as an honour well deserved.

The 2023 Presidential flag bearer of the Labour Party said he hopes the new Prime Minister will follow his campaign promises that made the UK voters give him their mandate.

He said, “I sincerely congratulate Mr Keir Starmer and the Labour Party UK on the landslide victory they recorded in Thursday’s election. May the victory translate to a better and new chapter for all the UK residents as you remain committed to your electoral promises.

“I also hope that your government will promote stronger ties between the UK and Nigeria, and help in deepening our democracy, especially during these challenging times.

“Nigeria is grappling with issues such as insecurity, education, healthcare, and poverty and could greatly benefit from the support of the UK. Let us work together to build a brighter future commonwealth for all.”

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