How Britain voted: Charts and maps

The U.K. Labour party is celebrating a landslide victory.

Keir Starmer’s party has 411 seats, excluding the speaker’s, and a large majority in the House of Commons. His tally includes a number of “red wall” constituencies the party lost to the Conservatives in the previous election in 2019, and seats the Scottish National Party had dominated for nearly a decade.

But a closer look at the numbers suggests Labour strategists should not rest on their laurels.

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party won five seats, but placed second in more than 100 other constituencies. By vote share, it is now the U.K.’s third-largest party.

Those same vote shares paint a far weaker picture for Labour than its seat number would suggest. The party recorded a 200-seat jump — but its vote share advanced by only an inch.

UK legislative election results

365 seats
CON

203 seats
LAB

48 seats
SNP

LD

DUP

SF

PC

SDLP

APNI

GREEN


Conservative Party

Labour Party

Scottish National Party

Liberal Democrats

Democratic Unionist Party

Sinn Féin

Plaid Cymru

Social Democratic and Labour Party

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

Green Party

650 / 650 seats assigned
Turnout: 67.3%

412 seats
LAB

121 seats
CON

72 seats
LD

SNP

SF

IND

DUP

RE

GREEN

PC

SDLP

APNI

OTHER

UUP


Labour Party

Conservative Party

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

Sinn Féin

Independent

Democratic Unionist Party

Reform UK

Green Party

Plaid Cymru

Social Democratic and Labour Party

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

Other parties

Ulster Unionist Party

650 / 650 seats assigned

The Conservatives lost 250 seats, as their vote share plummeted from more than 40 percent in 2019 to below 25 percent now.

But both Labour and the Liberal Democrats recorded major seat gains despite barely making any advance at all in their vote shares.

The U.K.’s first-past-the-post election system means Labour will occupy about 60 percent of the House of Commons, with less than 35 percent of the votes. That vote share is less than former leader Jeremy Corbyn achieved in 2017, when he lost to Theresa May’s Conservatives.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage’s Reform UK won five seats — but collected more than 14 percent of the vote, making it the third-largest party by vote share, ahead of the Liberal Democrats.

Labour’s anticipated win, while an extraordinary turnaround for a party that didn’t look electable just a few years ago, doesn’t appear to have enthused voters.

With turnout estimated at 60 percent, no election in the past 20 years drew fewer voters to the ballot box.

`Still, Labour made huge strides in the U.K.’s embattled swing seats.

Those constituencies were held by the Conservatives until 1997, before flipping to Labour and then back to the Tories from 2010.

Most of them have now swung behind Labour once more.

Labour’s loss in 2019 was punctuated by the crumbling of the “red wall,” as strongholds stretching from the Midlands to the north of England voted in a Conservative MP, many for the first time.

But that Tory control in these seats proved short-lived…

The Conservatives have had a terrible 2024 election, but so has the Scottish National Party.

The SNP has had a firm grip on power in Scotland since 2015, when it won nearly every Scottish seat — most of which had been occupied by Labour before.

But Thursday’s vote put an end to its winning streak. The party have lost around 80 percent of the seats total they held in 2019, with most going to Labour.

This election has radically changed the UK’s electoral map: a sea of red reminiscent of 1997 has the Conservative party reeling; a few dots of bright light blue and a significant vote share mark Reform UK’s entrance to mainstream UK politics, and the Lib Dems can enjoy a return from relative obscurity with more than 70 MPs, its highest number ever. Meanwhile, the shockingly poor performance of the SNP marks the end of an era north of the border.

*These figures have been updated following the last contituency’s declaration

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U.K. elections: Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman among British-Indian winners

As the Labour party swept the U.K. general elections, the number of Indian-origin Members of Parliament increased from 15 in the previous Conservative government to 26 — the highest number of British-Indian members.

Overall, 107 British-Indians contested the elections. Here are some prominent candidates and how they fared in the elections.


Also read: U.K. General Election 2024 highlights: Landslide win for Labour; Keir Starmer appointed new PM

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak, the outgoing Prime Minister of U.K., is arguably the most renowned Indian-origin political leader in the country in the current political arena. He contested the 2024 election from the Richmond and Northallerton constituency in northern England. 

Mr. Sunak was also the first Indian-origin Prime Minister of the U.K. He was born in 1980 in Southampton on England’s south coast to parents of Indian descent who were both born in East Africa.

His wife Akshata Murthy is an Indian citizen and is the daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy

Among his most controversial plans was his anti-migration stance. Earlier this year, he had vowed to begin forcibly removing migrants with failed asylum claims to Rwanda starting in July in a bid to deter migrants from crossing the English Channel on boats to enter the U.K. 

Shivani Raja

Shivani Raja is the British-Indian Conservative winner from Leicester East. She is a first-generation British citizen and was born to parents who came to Leicester from Kenya and India in the late 1970s. Her policies are in line with those of Mr. Sunak’s and the larger Conservative Party, including tougher immigration controls. 

Rajesh Agrawal

Labour Party’s Rajesh Agrawal lost to Conservative candidate Shivani Raja in Leicester East. Mr. Agrawal was born in Madhya Pradesh and grew up in India, and is the former Deputy Mayor of London for Business.

Mr. Agrawal campaigned on the issues of unemployment and low wages in light of the rising cost of living. Leicester is home to many British Indians and immigrants

Kanishka Narayan

Kanishka Narayan of Labour Party won the Vale of Glamorgan constituency in Wales. He was born in Bihar, India, and moved to Cardiff with his parents at 12. He studied at Oxford and Stanford universities, and has previously worked in public policy. 

Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman was the former Home Secretary to Rishi Sunak before she was fired for defying her boss in November 2023. She was born to Indian-origin parents who emigrated to the U.K. from Africa in the 1960s. In the 2024 election, she won the Fareham and Waterlooville constituency.

Ms. Braverman has been active in the Conservative party from her days as an undergraduate student at the University of Cambridge. She campaigned for the country to leave the EU during the Brexit referendum. Despite being from a family of immigrants, she is known for her hardline views against immigration, and has previously vowed to reduce the annual inflow into the U.K. to “tens of thousands”. 

Abbas Merali

Abbas Merali was a candidate from Harrow West in the U.K. parliamentary election, representing the Conservative and Unionist Party. He was defeated by Labour Party candidate Gareth Thomas. 

Navendu Mishra

Navendu Mishra, Labour Party candidate from Stockport constituency, won the 2024 U.K. parliamentary election and held on to his seat. His parents are from Uttar Pradesh.

Prior to entering politics, Mr. Mishra was a shop-floor trade unionist in Stockport, before becoming an organiser for Unison and helping to organise care workers in precarious employment.

Preet Kaur Gill

Preet Kaur Gill won the Birmingham Edgbaston constituency as a Labour Party candidate in the 2024 U.K. general election. She became U.K.’s first female Sikh MP in 2017. She was born to parents of Indian-origin in the U.K., and was the Shadow Minister for Primary Care and Public Health before the election. 

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, popularly called Tan Dhesi, is a U.K. politician of Indian origin who has been elected as the winner in Slough constituency. He is a Labour Party member.

Mr. Dhesi was born in Berkshire, but completed most of his primary education in Punjab, India, before returning to the U.K. at 9. In the Parliament, he was the Shadow Minister for Exports. 

Lisa Nandy

Lisa Nandy of the Labour party held on to her Wigan seat in the election — the constituency she has represented since 2010. She’s the daughter of well-known academic of Indian origin, Dipak Nandy.

In the past, she was the Labour Councillor on the Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council, and has also worked as the Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities. 

Seema Malhotra

Seema Malhotra, the Labour and Co-operative Party candidate in Feltham and Heston constituency, won the 2024 U.K. election.

Before becoming a full-time politician, Ms. Malhotra worked as a management consultant. 

Valerie Vaz

Labour party candidate Valerie Vaz won the reformed Walsall and Bloxwich constituency. She was first elected in 2010 from the Walsall South constituency, which now stands abolished.

Her younger brother Keith Vaz is also a Labour leader in the U.K. and was the longest-serving Indian-origin MP in the House of Commons when he retired in 2019 after 32 years. 

Baggy Shanker

Labour candidate Baggy Shanker won the Derby south constituency in the 2024 U.K. election. He has been a trade unionist working in the manufacturing and civil aerospace sectors for over three decades. 

Uday Nagaraj

Labour candidate Uday Nagaraju lost the North Bedfordshire constituency to Conservative and Unionist Party leader Richard Fuller by a margin of over 5,000 votes.

Mr. Nagaraju studied engineering the Nagpur University before moving to the U.K. He founded the AI Policy Labs in 2020 before venturing into politics. 

Hajira Piranie

Hajira Piranie lost the Harborough, Oadby and Wigston seat to Conservative candidate Neil O’Brien by a narrow margin of only around 2,000 votes. Her mother is from Maharashtra and her paternal grandparents are from Gujarat. 

Shama Tatler  

Shama Tatler, Labour candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green, lost to Conservative candidate Iain Duncan Smith by a little under 5,000 votes. 

Ms. Tatler is a second-generation British Indian with parents who were born in Nairobi and Mombasa. She has been a Councillor for Fryent Ward. 

Ryan Jude

Labour candidate Ryan Jude lost in Tatton constituency to the Conservative candidate by only around 1,100 votes. His parents had moved to the U.K. from India to work for the NHS. He works in environmental and climate policy.

Primesh Patel

Primesh Patel, Labour party candidate in Harrow East, lost to Conservative candidate in the constituency. He started his career in health and social care sector with NHS and worked there for 18 years. 

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Rishi Sunak’s campaign to stay British PM showed his lack of political touch

Britain’s outgoing Conservative Party Prime Minister Rishi Sunak looks down as he makes a short speech outside 10 Downing Street before going to see King Charles III to tender his resignation in London, Friday, July 5, 2024.
| Photo Credit: AP

Rishi Sunak’s campaign to remain Britain’s Prime Minister showed a lack of political touch.

The Conservative Party’s problems were grave before Friday’s resounding election defeat but missteps by Britain’s richest Prime Minister contributed to its defeat.

Predecessors such as Tony Blair and Boris Johnson were more politically astute and able to connect with voters. As for Mr. Sunak, he didn’t have to call the election until Jan. 2025. He defied political advice by doing so in May — with Conservative support dwindling steadily amid an economic slump, ethics scandals and a revolving door of leaders over the last two years — and announced the July 4 date in the pouring rain.

Also Read | U.K. General Election 2024 highlights

What’s more, the Conservative Party didn’t appear ready for the campaign compared with Labour, and voters haven’t really felt the improvement in Britain’s economy yet.

“I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss,” Mr. Sunak said in his final speech as Prime Minister outside the residence at 10 Downing St.

Arguably, Mr. Sunak’s biggest blunder — one that prompted him to apologize and which many analysts think was the final death knell of the Conservative Party’s campaign — was his decision to leave early from the 80-year D-day commemorations in northern France on June 6.

Critics said the decision to skip the international event that closed the commemorations showed disrespect to the veterans and diminished the U.K.’s international standing. Other world leaders including President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy all were present. As was Keir Starmer, the U.K.’s new Prime Minister.

Born in 1980 in Southampton on England’s south coast to parents of Indian descent, Mr. Sunak became Britain’s first leader of color and the first Hindu to become Prime Minister. At 42, he was Britain’s youngest leader for more than 200 years.

A former hedge fund manager at Goldman Sachs who married into a billionaire Indian family, Mr. Sunak rose rapidly within Conservative ranks. Now 44, he become Treasury chief on the eve of the coronavirus pandemic. Within weeks, he had to unveil the biggest economic support package of any Chancellor of the Exchequer outside wartime, a package that many saw as saving millions of jobs.

Long a low-tax, small-state politician despite the high-spending nature of that package, Sunak had a record of idolizing former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Smooth, confident and at ease with the march of modern technology, Mr. Sunak was dubbed “Dishy Rishi” and quickly became one of the most trusted and popular faces within Johnson’s administration during the rigors of the pandemic.

Mr. Johnson was forced to quit in the summer of 2022 after being adjudged to have lied to Parliament over breaches of coronavirus lockdowns at his offices in Downing Street. As if that wasn’t bad enough, trust in the Conservatives tanked further when his successor Liz Truss backed a package of unfunded tax cuts that roiled financial markets and sent borrowing costs surging, particularly for homeowners already struggling with the most acute of cost of living crisis in decades. Her premiership was the shortest in the history of the U.K.

When Mr. Sunak replaced Ms. Truss, he pitched himself as a stable pair of hands. He constantly reminded voters that he had warned Conservative Party members about the recklessness of Ms. Truss’s economic plan when he challenged her to succeed Mr. Johnson. The day he replaced Truss after her traumatic 49-day premiership in Oct. 2022, the Conservatives were trailing Labour by around 30 percentage points.

As Treasury chief, Mr. Sunak was lauded for rolling out his COVID-19 job retention package that arguably saved millions of jobs. But that came at a cost, bringing the country’s tax burden to its highest level since the 1940s.

In his 21 months as Prime Minister, Mr. Sunak struggled to keep a lid on bitter divisions within his Conservative Party. One side wanted him to be much tougher on immigration and bolder in cutting taxes, while another urged him to move more to the center of politics, the space where, historically, British elections are won.

In his concession speech, Mr. Sunak said he would serve a full term in parliament until 2029, and that he would stay on as leader until the Conservative Party has elected a successor.

“It is important that, after 14 years in government, the Conservative Party rebuilds, but also that it takes up its crucial role in opposition professionally and effectively,” he said,

Many think he may be tempted to return to the U.S. in the years to come, perhaps to pursue his interest in artificial technology.

After his school years at Winchester College, one of Britain’s most expensive boarding schools, Mr. Sunak went to Oxford University to study politics, philosophy and economics — the degree of choice for future Prime Ministers. He then got an MBA at Stanford University, which proved to be a launchpad for his subsequent career as a hedge fund manager at Goldman Sachs in the U.S.

There, he met his wife, Akshata Murty, the daughter of the billionaire founder of Indian tech giant Infosys. They have two daughters. The couple are the wealthiest inhabitants yet of No. 10 Downing Street, according to the Sunday Times’ 2024 Rich List, with an estimated fortune of 651 million pounds ($815 million). They’re even richer than King Charles III, a level of wealth that many said left him out of touch with the daily problems of most people.

With his fortune secure, Mr. Sunak was elected to Parliament for the safe Tory seat of Richmond in Yorkshire in 2015. In Britain’s 2016 Brexit referendum, he supported leaving the European Union, a “leave” that came unexpectedly and that many Britons today regret.

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video Global election season | How will results in UK, others impact India?

Elections herald change in UK with a Labour landslide, but also France and Iran, while the campaign trail hits a shocking turn in the US- Should New Delhi worry about losing friends in high places and how will results change the geopolitical landscape for India?

Hello and Welcome to WorldView at The Hindu with me Suhasini Haidar

If 2024 is the year of elections, with 64 countries going to vote, then the past week is particularly interesting- with 4 of the world’s most prominent leaders watching results of their campaigns closely- US President Biden, Iranian Supreme Leader Khameini, French President Macron….and the biggest loser this week -UK PM Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party.

They were crushed in a landslide by the Labour Party led by Keir Starmer- that won the biggest mandate since Tony Blair and ended a 14 year-4 term run in office that saw 5 Conservative Prime Ministers from David Cameron to Rishi Sunak

The Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, a former Human Rights lawyer and prosecutor will now lead one of the strongest majorities in the UK Parliament. Another strong showing has come from the ultra-right Reform Party led by Nigel Farage- accused of outright bigotry and a very tough anti-immigration line- which will no doubt drive the new labour government.

What does the UK loss mean for India:

1. Loss of Sunak, Britain’s first Indian-Origin PM

2. The new government will take a different line on immigration – has promised to appoint special prosecutors to crack down illegal immigrants, and sign Returns agreements with countries to send back

3. Labour past policies troubling- and though Starmer has disavowed its past positions on Kashmir and Khalistan, the worries of many Labour MPs advocating anti-India stands remains

4. The India-UK FTA has been in the works for years has not been completed. While the Labour Party is committed to the FTA, the question is, will it reopen the chapters already negotiated. At an India Global Conference, Shadow Minister David Lammy was very optimistic of completing it soon.

Across the channel, France is also seeing a second round of parliamentary elections that may severely dent President Macron’s grip on governance. The elections, which have been called 3 years early were announced after Macron’s Centrist coalition was defeated badly in June’s European Parliament elections by the Right wing National Rally -Rassemblement National. In the first round, Macron’s party came 3rd to both the ultra right RN and the Leftist bloc that combines Socialists, Communists and the Green party. If the RN were to win it would be the first time a right wing party, once accused of being anti semitic and fascist would control the French parliament since world war 2.

What does the right surge mean for India

1. If Macron is weakened by the results, that may impact France India ties too- certainly Macron has been a major friend, stepped in to be Republic Day chief guest this year after US President declined, has signed a number of major agreements with India in past 5 yrs

2. Immigration- France had begun to take a more progressive look at immigration, bring in new policies for students, and make speaking French a more stringent clause

3. RN’s leader Marine Le Pen has advocated a France First economic policy, and while she has softened her anti-EU position, might make the trade negotiations with India that much more difficult

4. Legislative gridlock that could follow from a hung parliament will make every negotiation difficult at a time France and India has growing strategic ties, also on trade, nuclear and renewable energy and defence.

Next, an election we haven’t followed as closely perhaps- in Iran, which is going to polls after a shocking helicopter crash killed its President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister, also after conflict with Israel, and after the major anti-Hijab demonstrations. The first round of these elections had two startling outcomes- a very low turnout of 40%, which is being read as a boycott of polls by an overwhelming number of voters unhappy with the regime. And in the results of the first round, Masoud Pezeshkian, a surgeon who was the Minister of Health and seen as a reformist, one who has advocated more reconciliation with the west won more votes than Khamenei protégé Saeed Jalili, Iran’s former chief nuclear negotiator. 

Here’s what to watch out for in India:

1. A win for Khamenei’s choice Jalili would no doubt signal continuity, and the same policies that India forged with his predecessor- in terms of Chabahar

2. However, Jalili’s win would also mean a continuation of US sanctions on Iran, that are already a cause for worry for India

3. A reformist win could bring in some relief internally in terms of women’s rights -Pezeshkian had publicly criticised the regime for the death of women’s activist Mahsa Amini over not wearing the hijab

4. However, real power remains with the Supreme leader and clergy, so no major policy changes can be expected

Finally, while this election is still months away, the US campaign hit a dramatic note this week in the aftermath of a disastrous drubbing to US President Joseph Biden by former President Donald Trump- with many calling for 82-year-old Biden, who appeared infirm and incoherent, to step aside in favour of another candidate as polls show Trump far ahead. Biden is said to be considering his options, but is expected to make another show of strength, in interviews and hosting a mega NATO Summit with Indo-Pacific leaders as well as Ukraine President Zelenskyy next week.

 What does it mean for India?

1. India has dealt with both Biden and Trump, and strategic and defence ties have improved with both

2. However, the Biden administration is getting tougher on India’s Russia ties, and PM Modi’s visit to Moscow next week will be seen dimly

3. While Trump has been seen as softer on Russia in the past, he also brings unpredictability and open threats, of the kind seen with Iran sanctions, and India may have to make tough choices there

4. On the economy too, Trump will drive a harder deal

35. While Biden is seen as more problematic on the issue of human rights, and the ongoing Pannun case on alleged transnational repression by India

 WV Take: The larger theme from elections in UK, France, Iran, US is that economic distress, inflation are underlying issues for people everywhere, spurring democratic change. A resultant strengthening of conservative right wing values- including anti-immigration, xenophobia and racism is a larger worry, even as Indians continue to be amongst the largest groups of illegal immigrants to Europe and US. These will have a bearing on both bilateral ties and foreign policy in the future.

 WV Book recommendations:

1. Biographies of new UK PM- Keir Starmer: by Tom Baldwin and Red Knight: The Unauthorised Biography of Sir Keir Starmer by Michael A. Ashcroft

2. The Conservative Party After Brexit: Turmoil and Transformation Kindle Edition by Tim Bale

3. Great Britain?: The instant Sunday Times bestseller and must-read for the 2024 General Election Kindle Edition by Torsten Bell

4. Politics On the Edge: by Rory Stewart also co host of podcast The Rest is Politics

5. The Macron Régime: The Ideology of the New Right in France by Charles Devellennes

6. Revolutionary Iran : A History of the Islamic Republic by Michael Axworthy

Script and Presentation: Suhasini Haidar

Production: Gayatri Menon and Shibu Narayan

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Keir Starmer becomes UK’s new Prime Minister after Labour’s landslide election victory

The U.K.’s Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer, won the July 4 general election by a landslide, securing 412 (+211) seats with outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party down to 121 (-250) seats in the 650-seat House of Commons. Nevertheless, the vote shares told a story of a more modest victory for Labour, while confirming the Conservative defeat, with Labour getting 35% and the Conservatives 24%. Labour had consistently polled 20 points head of the Conservatives in opinion polls.

“In many ways, this looks more like an election the Conservatives have lost than one Labour has won,” political scientist and psephologist John Curtice wrote on the BBC’s website.

Following Labour’s victory, King Charles III, the country’s monarch, appointed Mr. Starmer as the new Prime Minister of the U.K.

Keir Starmer promises change

The U.K.’s new Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, promised to carry fourth the theme of his Labour Party campaign, ‘change’ into his government, brining the notions of “service and respect” back into government.

Standing outside the Prime Minister’s official residence, No. 10 Downing Street with his wife Victoria Starmer, minutes after the residence’s former occupants, outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his family had departed, Mr. Starmer said he his government would put “country first, party second”.

In a thinly veiled reference to the five prime ministers the fourteen years of Tory government had seen, Mr. Starmer said that Britain had an ability to steer itself to calmer waters but that depended on politicians, especially those favouring “stability and moderation”.

But for Labour under Mr. Starmer, “change” has not just meant a change from the Tories but also a move towards the centre that has occurred since he took over the reins of the party from Jeremy Corbyn in 2020. Mr. Starmer has made repeated explicit references through the campaign, including on Friday, to a changed party. 

Editorial | ​Laboured change: on the U.K. general election result

“You have a government unburdened by doctrine, guided only by a determination to serve your interests, to defy, quietly, those who have written off our country,” he said in his first speech as Prime Minister, adding that his government would “tread more lightly “ on the lives of citizens.

Specifically mentioning “nurses, builders, drivers, carers”, Mr. Starmer said their lives had become more insecure. Labour’s manifesto has promised to strengthen workers’ rights in the first 100 days of government as part of its ‘New deal for working people’. 

The new Prime Minister made references to other manifesto themes in his Downing Street speech: renewing Britain’s universal health care system, clean energy, border security and safer streets.

“And so my government will fight, every day until you believe again,” Mr. Starmer said. He also paid special tribute to Mr Sunak, acknowledging that the former Prime Minister, who is of Indian-descent, was the first Asian Briton to hold the post.

“His achievement as the first British Asian Prime Minister of our country, the extra effort that will have required, should not be underestimated by anyone,” Mr. Starmer said, as he paid tribute to Mr Sunak’s dedication and hard work.

Keir Starmer appoints new Cabinet

By the early afternoon, the cabinet announcements began emerging.

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of Labour, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary. Rachel Reeves, a former Bank of England staffer and MP, was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. David Lammy, a long-time MP from Tottenham, was appointed Foreign Secretary. John Healey, a long time MP from the Tony Blair era, was appointed Defence Secretary.

Mr. Starmer has a hectic two weeks ahead in the foreign policy space with a NATO summit meeting in Washington DC July 9 -11 and the European Political Community Summit scheduled in the U.K. on July 18.

Britain’s Labour Party Prime Minister Kier Starmer makes speech 10 Downing Street in London, Friday, July 5, 2024. Labour leader Stammer won the general election on July 4, and was appointed Prime Minster by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, after the party won a landslide victory.

Britain’s Labour Party Prime Minister Kier Starmer makes speech 10 Downing Street in London, Friday, July 5, 2024. Labour leader Stammer won the general election on July 4, and was appointed Prime Minster by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, after the party won a landslide victory.
| Photo Credit:
AP

Also Read | U.K. General Election 2024 LIVE updates

Rishi Sunak concedes defeat

Standing outside London’s iconic Tate Modern in the early hours of Friday morning, the 61-year-old Mr. Starmer spoke of change — Labour’s central theme, reflecting “a changed Labour Party” and a change to 14 years of Tory government.

“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,” he said.

In Yorkshire, the outgoing Prime Minister Mr. Sunak, who managed to retain his own Richmond seat, conceded and took responsibility for the results. Mr. Sunak’s political future has been in doubt as some polls projected that he would lose his own seat.

“The Labour Party has won this general election and I’ve caught Sir Kier Starmer to congratulate him on his victory,” Mr. Sunak said, adding, that power would change hands “in a peaceful and orderly manner”.

Later, as he left No. 10 Downing Street for the last time, Mr. Sunak apologised to his supporters and said he would step down from the post of party Leader. Mr. Sunak, a 44-year-old father of two girls, asked the public to support Mr. Starmer and his family as they transition into No. 10. He also made a reference to his being the country’s first non-White British Prime Minister.

“One of the most remarkable things about Britain is just how unremarkable it is,” he said. “That two generations after my grandparents came here with little, I could become Prime Minister, and that I could watch my two young daughters light Diwali [Deepavali] candles on the steps in Downing Street,” he said.

Mr. Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murthy, were then driven to Buckingham Palace, to cheers and boos from onlookers. Mr. Sunak then offered his resignation to King Charles III.

With Mr. Sunak’s departure, the question of party leadership remains open. Former Leader of the House of Commons and a possible candidate for the leadership of the party, Penny Mordaunt, lost her Portsmouth North seat to Labour by a wafer-thin margin of 780 votes, ruling out her leadership run. Another possible contender, Jacob Reese-Mogg, also lost his seat as did several other high-profile Conservatives, including former Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, who lost his Hertfordshire seat. The education secretary, culture secretary, and justice secretary also lost their seats.

U.K. parties left and right of mainstream do well

Although the U.K’s smaller parties won just 17% of the seats in Thursday’s election, they increased their vote share from 2019, winning some 40% of the vote. Parties to the right and left of the two mainstream parties, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, did well, with the far right eating into the Conservatives’ votes and Labour, which secured a landslide victory, losing some seats because of its stand on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

The Green Party won a record four seats. The Eurosceptic, anti-immigrant Reform UK party won four seats, and its leader, Nigel Farage, won a seat after seven unsuccessful attempts. Mr. Farage was the de facto leader of the Brexit movement.

Reform UK leader and MP for Clacton, Nigel Farage, speaks during a press conference in Westminster, central London, Friday July 5, 2024.

Reform UK leader and MP for Clacton, Nigel Farage, speaks during a press conference in Westminster, central London, Friday July 5, 2024.
| Photo Credit:
AP

“Conservative support fell most heavily in seats they were trying to defend. This is primarily the result of a large increase in Reform’s support, especially in places where there was a high Leave [the European Union] vote in 2016,” psephologist John Curtice wrote on BBC.

Mr. Farage described the results as just the beginning of something larger. “Believe me, folks, this is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you,“ he said.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn won his seat of Islington North as an independent candidate. He said his victory was a warning to the incoming government that “dissent cannot be crushed without consequences”. Mr. Starmer had suspended Mr. Corbyn from the party in 2020 for his response to an inquiry into anti-Semitism within Labour. The Labour party lost four seats on Thursday to pro-Gaza independents. After Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7 and Israel’s counter-attack on Gaza, Mr. Starmer’s positions on the manner of Israel’s retaliation were criticized for being too soft on Israel. Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jonathan Ashworth was among those who lost his seat (South Leicester), losing it to Shockat Adam. “This is for Gaza,” Mr Adam declared.

In Leicester East, India-born Rajesh Agrawal lost to Conservative Shivani Raja, with the non-Tory vote getting split between various candidates, including former MP Claudia Webbe, who has actively campaigned for Palestine.

Across the Irish Sea, in Northern Ireland (NI), the Republican Sinn Fein became the largest NI party in Westminster, retaining seven seats, while the Democratic and Unionist Party (DUP) won just five seats, a loss of three seats since 2019. Sinn Fein has had a majority in the NI Assembly since 2019 and is in favour of a Irish unification referendum by 2030.

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party woke up to bad news on Friday, winning just nine seats, a loss of 38. The pro-independence party, which has been governing Scotland for 17 years, lost the Westminster seats in the two major cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.



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‘The Labour Party may have more freedom than the Sunak government, to talk about a trade deal with India , including visas’ : U.K. Political Scientist

Anand Menon, Director of the U.K. in a Changing Europe, a think tank, discusses the outcomes of the U.K. elections, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s political future, and how the Labour Party’s foreign policy towards India and China might look if it forms the next U.K. government, in an interview with Sriram Lakshman.


What are we expecting in terms of turnout this year relative to the past few elections? And historically, is there a statistical relationship in the U.K. between turnout and the prospects for the incumbent?


I don’t know of any relationship between turnout and incumbency. On balance, we would expect turnout, I think, to be low this time. There are two things that tend to militate in favour of a low turnout. One is people thinking that it’s a foregone conclusion. And everyone is convinced that Labour is going to win. And the second is when people have a sense that there is not that much difference between the big two parties. That tends to drive turnout down as well. Now, it’s very hard to predict because the counterargument is there’s so much anger against the Conservative Party that people who don’t normally vote will go out to register their discontent. So we are never certain until the day but there are reasons for thinking that turnout will be low.


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has the worst approval ratings, according to some polls, since 1979. He has promised to not jump ship and move back to California. How does Mr. Sunak’s political future look if he loses his own seat?


I think the cynical approach to that question will be to say he might be quietly relieved if he loses his seat because then he does not have to honour his pledge to stay in Parliament for the next five years. Most people I have spoken to seem to think it’s very, very unlikely that if he wins his seat, he will stay in Parliament, or if he does stay in Parliament that he will attend Parliament very often at all. But we will have to wait and see. But of course, if he does lose his seat, then he spared that difficult decision.


If he wins his seat, it’s unlikely he will attend Parliament?


I just think for a former Prime Minister who has lost in humiliating circumstances, who then has to sit around — while his party picks a new leader, and the candidates will queue up to say why he was wrong in what he did — it will not be the most comfortable work environment to be in.


How do you think the Conservative Party is going to look, post-Sunak?


The simple and rather disappointing answer is: we don’t know. And we don’t know largely because we’re not sure how many MPs are going to be left in Parliament…And remember, it’s the MPs who choose the two candidates [for party leader] who go to the ballot of members.


Is Nigel Farage’s Reform U.K. party here to stay? Are they going to be a consistent force competing for votes with the conservatives? How is their support spread across the U.K.? [Nigel Farage was one of the leaders of the Brexit campaign and is currently not an MP].


One of the trends we saw before the Brexit referendum was a steady decline in the vote share of the two big parties — Labour and Conservative. And UKIP, which was a forerunner of Reform, was one of the beneficiaries of that. So in 2015, UKIP got almost four million votes. We will see if Reform does better than that four million votes or not. But it does seem to me that this is going to be another election where the vote share of the two big parties is going to drop and where other parties are going to do well. So, I think Reform is here to stay. Unless, and this will depend on a lot of things we can’t predict it is conceivable, there’s been a lot of talk about the fact that if Nigel Farage wins a seat in Parliament, he might consider jumping ship to the Conservatives because he wants to be a Conservative rather than in Reform because the Conservatives are a bigger brand, better databases, better voter tracking and things like that. Now, a lot of politicians in the Conservative Party have come out and said that Nigel Farage cannot join the Conservatives. Again, we’ll have to wait and see what the Conservatives look like after the election. It is conceivable, just about, that Reform get a bigger share of the vote than the Conservative Party, though, because the Reform vote is pretty evenly spread across the country, they’re not going to get many MPs at all.


David Lammy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, has recently said an FTA (‘free’ trade agreement) is the floor, not the ceiling, of a relationship with India. Labour is also looking to reset its relationship with India. Some of that has already started. The Indian High Commissioner also recently said that asking for visas is not India’s number one priority in the FTA context. Will Keir Starmer have more bandwidth to negotiate a free trade agreement with India because his hands are less tied in terms of migration and perhaps he has less to prove in terms of exercising post-Brexit freedoms?


It’s interesting on immigration because, on the one hand, Labour has continued to talk tough: they are going to reduce numbers, they are going to stop so many immigrants coming in by improving training for British workers and things like that…But on the other hand, Labour voters are not concerned about immigration. Immigration is not a top concern for Labour voters. And it looks like Labour is going to have the unexpected presence of coming into office and seeing a significant fall in immigration numbers because of the decisions taken by the current government. So it might be that that gives Labour a little bit more freedom than their predecessors to talk about a deal with the Indians, including visas, because it might not be the top requirement, but it’s certainly an important requirement for the Government of India. So it could be that Labour sees an opportunity to be a bit more flexible.

There’s a political rationale for some of this. I am not doubting for a moment that they are genuinely interested in strengthening this strategic partnership with India, but Labour has been in recent times, struggling to keep hold of Indian Hindu voters who have been tending to turn their backs on the party. And I am sure that party strategists who say whatever the foreign policy benefits are, and there are several, of a good relationship with India, and there are political dividends to be had as well.


The Conservative manifesto seems to have more detail on the relationship with China. Is that because they have the advantage of having been in office for 14 years? Are you seeing any major shifts in the U.K.’s China policy; the Labour manifesto sounded fairly high level on its China policy.


I think on the Tories, there are three things. One, yes, they have been in government and have had to try to address some of these questions, too. Two, there is a very strong strand of opinion inside the Conservative Party that wants to see us be tougher on China. And I think that was reflected in the manifesto. And three, if I can suggest something as cynical as this, it’s easier to promise things if you are pretty convinced you are going to lose.

Labour, you’re absolutely right it’s very, very, vague. Cooperate and compete where we can or where we have to…it’s intensely vague. And I do think it’s the case that Labour has not even begun to confront, in their manifesto, at least [we don’t know in that private thinking], some of the difficult trade-offs that are going to be in the relationship with China. Because, on the one hand, the priority of Kier Starmer is growth, and having flourishing trade with China might be part of that strategy. On the other hand, opinions in this country on China have hardened notably over the last five or six years. I think the U.K will come under significant pressure from the U.S., whoever is in the White House, to take a tougher line on China. So that I think is an issue where we’ll learn as we go what Labour intends to do.


Do you think we are going to be in a position where we can seriously be talking about the U.K. returning to the EU, in some sense, in a few years?


At the moment, I would say there is very little prospect of that. But there are a lot of moving parts. Let’s see how big the Labour majority is; and how bad the conservative defeat is. You can look in terms of Labour being in power for the foreseeable future, I think they might be willing to take more ambitious steps towards the European Union, perhaps at the end of the first term, or towards the second term. The problem for Labour is they need to score some successes quite quickly. And a lengthy negotiation with the EU leading to, ultimately, a closer economic relationship, is not going to give you those quick wins. So I think it is conceivable I mean… anything’s conceivable in British politics these days… but I don’t think it’s for the first term of a Labour government.


Keir Starmer has been criticised for his positions on Israel and Gaza [for example in October 2023 he had implied that Israel had a right to withhold water and power from Palestinians while also saying Israel had to act within the bounds of international law]. Once the elections are done, are we going to see any shifts from Keir Starmer and the Labour Party in terms of Israel and Gaza?


It’s very hard to know, on both Israel and Gaza and Europe. What will be interesting is that the government will face significant pressure from its own side, to move further and faster than they have seemed willing to do today. One of the things we don’t know is how well the leadership will cope with those pressures, whether they will succumb to them, whether they will stand up to them. Those are things we simply don’t know until we see the new government in action. I would say that whilst I think Kier Starmer misspoke in the LBC interview about whether Israel was respecting international law, so I think he probably went further than he intended. I would hazard a guess he was not that upset about it afterwards, because at that point, the key message from Labour’s leadership is, “We have changed”… And there are a few clearer ways of doing that than turning your back on some of these pillars of Labour policy.

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Election gambling scandal engulfing UK’s ruling party, explained

With a week to go until a general election in the UK, an investigation into potentially illegal betting by people close to Rishi Sunak is the last thing the collapsing Conservative Party needs.

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With the UK’s general election just a week away, the reigning Conservative Party looks set to suffer a devastating defeat after 14 years in power.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the party’s poll numbers have remained stuck at a record low for more than a year and a half — and the election he called by surprise at the end of May has done nothing to improve them. Instead, the campaign has been a catastrophe.

Sunak announced the snap election outdoors in the pouring rain, then appeared at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, where reporters duly asked him if his party resembled a sinking ship.

While other minor but embarrassing gaffes quickly piled up, the worst was yet to come, with Sunak leaving a major D-Day commemoration early to sit for a pre-recorded TV interview. 

But now, with the Conservatives’ numbers still flatlining and predictions of a near-wipeout result, a full-on disaster has hit the party with only days to go till the vote.

In a scandal first broken by The Guardian, it has emerged that several people close to Sunak are under investigation for placing suspicious bets on the date of the election in the 24 hours before it was called.

Among the accused are one of the prime minister’s close protection police officers; MP Craig Williams, one of Sunak’s closest parliamentary aides; the party’s chief data officer, Nick Mason; its campaigns director, Tony Lee; and Lee’s wife Laura Saunders, the Tory candidate for Bristol North West.

The authorities are now investigating whether these people used their insider knowledge about the election date to take an opportunity to make money by gambling on it — potentially a criminal offence.

The election had been widely expected to happen in the autumn, and most Tory MPs and staff appear to have been taken by surprise with the decision to call it for 4 July. The implication is that some of those privy to Sunak’s thinking will have taken advantage of relatively long odds to place sure bets before the announcement was made.

When it emerged that the investigation was underway, British political journalists wasted no time looking through available data from top betting exchanges to confirm that a flurry of bets on the date had indeed come in just before Sunak announced the country would be going to the polls.

Things only keep getting worse

Since the scandal began, Sunak and the central Conservative Party have insisted that they cannot discuss it in detail because the accused are under investigation. The prime minister says the party is conducting its own internal investigation, and said there would be consequences should anyone be found to have crossed the line.

Nonetheless, he has been widely criticised for not immediately suspending the two candidates accused — and for not speaking out as soon as the allegations emerged.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, who, based on current polling, is all but certain to be prime minister come 5 July, condemned Sunak for his slowness. 

“If they had been my candidates, they’d have been straight out of the door and their feet wouldn’t have touched the floor,” he told The Independent. “But to wait a week, to make excuses like that, is inexcusable.”

Some criticism of the Tories has come from the party’s own elite. Michael Gove, a longtime minister who reportedly encouraged Sunak to go ahead with the snap election and then announced he would not be standing in it, told the Sunday Times newspaper that the betting story was reminiscent of the scandal over parties held in Downing Street during the COVID-19 pandemic — a saga that ultimately ended Boris Johnson’s premiership.

“It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us,” Gove said. “That’s the most potentially damaging thing. The perception that we operate outside the rules that we set for others. That was damaging at the time of Partygate and is damaging here.”

At first, the scandal seemed confined to people close to Sunak. But then it began to expand. 

‘Gentlemen, place your bets’

It has now transpired that candidates in other parties have also been betting on electoral outcomes while also standing themselves.

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Labour candidate Kevin Craig, who is on the ballot in a previously safe Tory seat, has been suspended by his party after it emerged he had placed a bet on himself to lose.

In a statement accepting his suspension, he acknowledged what had happened, he did not have self-enrichment in mind.

“A few weeks ago when I thought I would never win this seat I put a bet on the Tories to win here with the intention of giving any winnings to local charities,” he wrote on X. “While I did not place this bet with any prior knowledge of the outcome, this was a huge mistake, for which I apologise unreservedly.”

Starmer acted quickly to suspend him, but the Labour leader has also stopped short of denying that anyone else among his candidates has done the same thing.

It has since emerged that another Tory candidate, Sir Philip Davies, also bet on himself to lose, with The Sun tabloid reporting he wagered £8,000 that he would be unseated. Challenged on the news, he told the tabloid that he “fully expected to lose” but pointed out he had done nothing illegal.

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Others found to have placed bets on outcomes in individual seats include the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Alex Cole-Hamilton, who is not himself on the ballot. He told an interviewer he sees no moral issue with what he has done but would be open to a review of rules on whether or not elected officials and candidates can gamble on elections.

But the crucial point is the allegations swirling around Sunak’s inner circle involve behaviour that is not just unbecoming, but illegal. And there is a serious prospect that the Gambling Commission investigation and suspension of Sunak-adjacent Tories will not be the end of the story.

In a statement issued the same night as the latest Starmer-Sunak debate, the Metropolitan Police said it is “investigating a small number of cases to assess whether the alleged offending goes beyond Gambling Act offences to include others, such as misconduct in public office.”

If members of his staff or any of his prospective MPs are found to have committed criminal offences using the knowledge he shared with them, the already desperately unpopular Sunak will go into the election with yet another millstone round his neck.

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Keir Starmer: Bringing the Left to the centre

“I changed Labour. I will fight for you and change Britain,” Keir Starmer, chief of the Labour party, wrote on X on May 28, as part of his campaign for the U.K. elections, scheduled to be held on July 4.

Whether Mr. Starmer will fulfil the promise remains to be seen. However, the Opposition leader has certainly changed the identity of Labour from former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s time. Mr. Starmer, who became an MP in 2015, ran for leadership of Labour in 2020 after Mr. Corbyn, a leftist, resigned following the party’s defeat in the 2019 election. Mr. Starmer stood for the leadership race with an agenda of 10 key pledges, which he stated was ‘based on the moral case for socialism’. Some of the key pledges include an increase of income tax for 5% of top earners, restricting the U.K.’s arms sales, nationalising the rail, mail, energy and water sectors, a new Green Deal, strengthening workers rights, etc. But since his election as party leader, Mr. Starmer has abandoned most of these promises.

Mr. Starmer’s recurring defence has been that Brexit, the COVID pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war and the disastrous policies of the Tory government had completely destroyed the nation’s economic progress. What is of utmost priority, at the present moment, is economic and financial stability. This is reflected in Labour’s election manifesto as well.

In the manifesto, Labour pledges to nationalise just the railways. It also walked back on the promise of raising taxes of the top rich as it’s a ‘different situation’ now that the U.K. has its highest tax burden since the Second World War. Mr. Starmer has also put on hold a €28 billion climate investment promise which he made in 2022.

Additionally, he has been accused of carrying out a systemic phasing out of the more left-wing candidates of the party. This internal divide has come out in full force recently as decisions are being taken about the candidates to be fielded by the party for the coming election. A couple of incumbent leftwing MPs have been banned from standing for elections. Diane Abbott, the first Black woman MP in the U.K. said Labour was carrying out a “cull of leftwingers”.

Another common link being drawn between the banned MPs has been their call for a permanent and immediate ceasefire in Israel’s war on Gaza. Mr. Starmer has, contrarily, thrown his weight behind Israel, upholding its “right to defend itself”. At one point, when asked whether cutting off water and power supplies into Gaza would be an appropriate response, he replied: “I think that Israel does have that right”. It is only recently, after Israel’s Rafah onslaught began, that Mr. Starmer called for a ceasefire ‘that lasts’.

Some say the shift from the initial pledges to status quo has been an act of betrayal by Mr. Starmer, a tool used to gain votes from both sides of the party for leadership. Others say it’s part of his pragmatic and solution-oriented outlook on politics.

Idealist to realist

Mr. Starmer was born into a working class family in 1962. He has repeatedly drawn attention to this fact to emphasise his commitment to the working people and trade unions. He grew up in poverty, being one among four siblings with an ailing mother. His father used to work as a toolmaker in his village in Surrey. Following his schooling, Mr. Starmer went on to study law, and became the first person in his family to graduate college.

Mr. Starmer’s record as a human rights lawyer had earned him a good deal of ire from both the progressive and conservative factions of society before he had even entered politics.

The Opposition leader has always centred human rights in his practice. In his early days, he would travel across Caribbean countries defending convicts against the death penalty, a punishment he says “horrifies him”. He was also involved in the famous Mclibel case wherein he defended two environmentalists who were taken to court by McDonalds on charges of libel for stating that the company was damaging the environment.

He was deeply committed to bringing out large-scale change, often feeling frustrated at the lack of systemic changes through individual cases.

His shift towards a ‘realist’ started in 2003, when he was appointed the human rights adviser to the Policing Board in Northern Ireland. From 2008 to 2013, he had been the Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). He would later reflect on his time in these institutions as key to his political approach.

“I came better to understand how you can change by being inside and getting the trust of people”, he said.

The Gist

Keir Starmer rose to the leadership of British Labour, after leftist Jeremy Corbyn resigned, with 10 key pledges, which he stated was ‘based on the moral case for socialism’

Since his election as party leader, Starmer has abandoned most of these promises, but he says he remains committed to the cause of workers and upholds nationalisation of public industries

Starmer says his immediate focus is on economic stability and that he doesn’t support giving markets a free rein but believes in shaping the market for economic growth through policy

As Director of the CPS, Mr. Starmer tried to stay true to his human rights-based approach. For example, certain high profile sexual abuse cases led him to change the CPS’s guidelines on sexual assault cases wherein prosecutors were asked to start from a position of believing the victim. He also brought to book several MPs over false accounting charges. However, he was decried for his disproportionate response towards student protestors in 2010 wherein he advocated for rapid sentencing. He has also faced public scrutiny for refusing to prosecute police officers in cases such as that of Jean Charles de Menendez, a Brazilian immigrant who was killed by police who mistook him for a terror suspect, and Ian Tomlinson, who was killed by policemen during a protest against the 2009 G-20 summit.

However, as Director of the CPS, his role in the Julian Assange extradition trial must be one of his least known cases. Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is now detained in the high-security Belmarsh prison in London and is involved in a prolonged legal battle against his extradition to the U.S. Mr. Starmer had tried to fast-track Mr. Assange’s extradition to the U.S — he took various trips to the U.S. with respect to the case, and persuaded the Swedish authorities to keep their case of extradition open.

A ‘New Deal’

Some experts state that Mr. Starmer has no ideology. Some others have compared him to Tony Blair because of his apathy towards ideology and his drive to revamp the Labour party, especially after the Corbyn years.

However, unlike Tony Blair, Mr. Starmer has called for the party to take up the cause of the workers and the trade unions, upheld nationalisation of public industries and talked about putting more money into businesses. He is fully committed to Labour’s “New Deal for Working People”, which calls for expanding collective bargaining and granting workers’ basic rights, such as sick pay, parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal. He doesn’t support giving markets a free rein but believes in shaping the market for economic growth through policy. He also believes in climate justice and setting up of green industries. Thus, with all opinion polls and trends predicting a win for Labour, Mr. Starmer has firmly placed the party in a centrist position. His vision has been coined by some as Starmerism, wherein economic stability, workers rights and climate justice hold precedence.

However, with a stagnant economy, a health system in shambles, collapsing public services, and high national debt, it is to be seen whether Starmerism can hold ground.

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UK government accused of frightening immigrants into leaving

EU citizens in the UK are “expected to beg, bend their knee and show remorse for not knowing” about post-Brexit visa changes, Euronews was told.

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Before Brexit became official on 31 January 2020, life for EU citizens living in the UK was fairly straightforward.

But everything changed after that date. 

Many people who had lived in the UK for more than 10 years and had been granted permanent residency cards were told they had no right to live there any more. 

That’s because the Home Office explained they hadn’t applied to the EU Settlement Scheme by the 30 June 2021 deadline.

Still, a large number of EU citizens say they simply weren’t aware of the change.

Following outrage from these people – and others representing them – the government said in January they may now be allowed to stay in the UK.

Changes aren’t enough

The3million is a grassroots organisation established in the UK to represent EU citizens living in the country after the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The movement told Euronews the government U-turn will likely not go far enough.

Under the government changes, those who settled in the UK before Brexit and were previously granted permanent residence cards will now be able to make a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme – yet only in some circumstances.

As Andreea Dumitrache, Communications Manager at the3million explained: “These are still very limited in scope, and a majority of late applicants are still expected to be confronted with huge barriers to get their application to be considered.”

Some 50 organisations asked the government for changes through a letter coordinated by the3million – but they think it’s too little, too late.

“We’re disappointed the Home Office still does not accept that having an EEA permanent residence card in itself is sufficient evidence for reasonable grounds for applying late,” Dumitrache told Euronews.

“People are also expected to beg, bend their knee and show remorse for not knowing. We are concerned this will lead to only people with access to legal advice to be able to get their application through,” she added.

Massimo and Dee, an Italian couple who moved to Belfast in January 2023 were victims of this apparent lack of transparency from the government since Brexit came into force.

They ran a small food outlet providing traditional Italian pizza and street food, serving the local community, but soon saw both their business account and Massimo’s current account blocked by their bank.

The restaurant owners told Euronews: “We only knew as we were trying to process a supplier payment and it didn’t go through. We contacted the bank but they wouldn’t tell us anything or advise how this could be resolved.”

Dee explained they felt “devastated, humiliated and concerned.”

Massimo in particular, “felt let down by the country he had lived in for over 20 years, where he had provided employment for many people over the years, paid his taxes and given back to the local community. We didn’t know which way to turn and received incorrect advice from several sources.”

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Before discovering the3million, Dee and Massimo contacted the Home Office directly.

“They wouldn’t advise on what course of action we should take. We researched on the government websites but there was no clear guidance for people in Massimo’s situation who already held a residency card,” Dee said.

It was only after paying for an immigration lawyer that they were given any clarity and idea about what to do next.

Dee still holds a lot of anger towards the government. 

“They should have specifically mentioned that even those with a permanent residency card (with no expiration date) still needed to apply. In fact, they should have contacted holders of the card and advised them, as was the case in other countries with similar permits, such as Denmark.” 

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After a great deal of stress, Dee managed to get her business account reinstated after removing her husband as a director and completing a change of mandate details.

She says it took the bank a month to sort out and now their business is “ruined” and they “won’t be in a position to reopen it.”

This kind of story is all too familiar for Andreea Dumitrache.

“It is the most vulnerable who will suffer,” she told Euronews, “vulnerable EU citizens, those living in poverty, ethnic minorities, those who are not digitally literate, can still be refused, despite living in this country for years, if they do not tick all the additional boxes.”

She is concerned that people who were aware of the need to reapply may still be in danger of losing their right to stay in the UK.

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“Others will have been told by the Home Office to reapply following a previous incorrect refusal and will now be considered not to have a reasonable ground for a late application,” she said.

According to the3million, it appears as if the Home Office is working off the assumption that people will encounter a “trigger event” and find out they need to apply at an already difficult time.

“People can live in the UK for years without a trigger event making them aware they need to secure status. This was made exceedingly clear by the Windrush scandal, in which many people discovered their lack of proof of status many years after changes in policy and legislation,” Dumitrache explained.

The Home Office say they have been clear with their new policy. 

“Permanent residence documents issued under the EEA Regulations confirmed a person’s status in the UK under EU free movement rules.” they said. “We have long been clear that such documentation ceased to be valid at the end of the grace period on 30 June 2021.”

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“More than two years have passed since the deadline for applying to the scheme, which was widely publicised. In line with our Citizens’ Rights Agreements commitments, we continue to accept and consider late applications from those with reasonable grounds for their delay in applying.”

Dumitrache refutes this claim, though.

“Politicians promised EU citizens would retain their rights after Brexit. This government needs to take responsibility and change this culture of disbelief in the Home Office. The most vulnerable cannot be those who suffer the burden and have their lives destroyed,” she said.

Under the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, the UK must guarantee the rights of EU citizens living legally in the country before leaving the bloc. In turn, EU countries must do the same for British citizens living there.

After the scheme was closed in June 2021, the government promised they would take late applications if there were “reasonable grounds”.

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In August last year, however, Rishi Sunak’s lawmakers changed the rules so a lack of awareness of the EU settlement scheme was no longer a justification for not applying.

The3million has now called on the government to take further action, saying their decisions are simply not in the spirit or substance of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

The organisation says they are not doing enough to ensure that the “reasonable grounds” promise is being upheld and are accusing them of effectively removing safeguards previously put in place for EU citizens to have full access to their rights.

While Dee and Massimo are on the way to getting back on their feet – although they are not sure they will stay in the country after the way they have been treated by the government and their bank – thousands of other EU citizens in the UK are just at the beginning of their possibly treacherous journeys.

“I struggle to think of any benefits (of Brexit),” Dee told Euronews.

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“We have always striven to source foods locally and support the UK economy, customers want authentic Italian food which can only be achieved by including Italian ingredients. Brexit drove up the prices of food to such an extent that many family run businesses were forced to close their doors,” she said.

Dee, and many others, fear for the future of EU citizens’ role in the UK if the government does not make yet another U-turn.

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Europe’s Silicon Valley? No thanks

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CAMBRIDGE, England — This city wears many crowns: the fastest growing in Britain, the world’s most intensive research cluster and the university with the highest number of tech founders.

It also has Britain’s second highest level of inequality and one of the lowest amounts of rainfall of any U.K. city.

The tension between those titles has come to a head in the government’s bid to turn Cambridge into “Europe’s Silicon Valley.” Housing Secretary Michael Gove wants to build more than 150,000 new homes there by 2040, more than doubling the city’s size and triple the number local planners had earmarked for the area.

“Nowhere is the future being shaped more decisively than in Cambridge,” Gove said in a speech in December. “Its global leadership in life sciences and tech is a huge national asset. But until now… its growth has been constrained.”

He envisaged a new quarter with “beautiful Neo-classical buildings, rich parkland, concert halls and museums.” A new development corporation would be established to deliver the vision “regardless of the shifting sands of Westminster,” Gove said.

But in the face of mass house-building and water shortages; the investors, city leaders, businesses and environmentalists POLITICO spoke to for this article were skeptical of the scale of the government’s ambitions for their city.

They say they have other ideas.

Growing in a drought

The biggest obstacle to the city’s growth plans is a shortage of water. 

Plans for 9,000 homes and 300,000 square meters of research space, including a new cancer hospital, are being held up after the Environment Agency raised fears about water scarcity. Meanwhile, the area’s local water utility, Cambridge Water, is having to rework its latest management plan to account for the government’s inflated target.

The city pumps its water from underground chalk aquifers, but its rivers and streams are drying up. Levels in the River Cam have been 10 centimeters below their 2013 average for the last four summers.

“There is absolutely no point talking to us about expansion… unless you can solve the water problem,” said Cambridge Science Park director Jane Hutchins.

The science park wants to build a new campus and Hutchins said “we need to be able to accommodate growth at pace and in a timely manner, but we are all very conscious that we can’t do it at the cost of the environment.”

The Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire has expressed similar concerns.

Plans for 9,000 homes and 300,000 square meters of research space are being held up after the Environment Agency raised fears about water scarcity | Cambridge City Council

The government has put £3 million into a water scarcity group and hopes a new reservoir in the Fens will solve the problem. But that is at least ten years away. In the meantime it is looking to rainwater harvesting, reducing consumption and a new pipeline.

Gove said in December that “new steps to help manage demand for water in new developments” would come in the new year.

Investors, tech founders and university leaders told POLITICO the water supply problem can be overcome, but environmentalists see it as an existential threat.

Sitting in a rooftop restaurant above the Cam, Tony Eva, whose film Pure Clean Water examines the city’s water crisis, said: “How many times can you say we will solve the problems caused by growth with more growth?”

“The shortage of water is not a new feature, we have known [about it] for 60 to 70 years… These clever people have sat on their hands and now they are having to do something. In one sense it is too late.”

Grow your own way

Wendy Blythe, chair of the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations, agreed.

She argues that Cambridge has had enough growth and the “goodies” should go to less affluent parts of the country. Critics of Gove’s plan point out that the minister in charge of “leveling up” is putting forward a policy that could do the opposite.

“Lots of things are happening to Cambridge to become a ‘Silicon Valley,’ and ordinary residents are paying for it,” Blythe said.

Grappling with these problems is Tabitha Goldstaub, a tech entrepreneur and executive director of Innovate Cambridge, a group set up by the university and investors to come up with a more sustainable innovation strategy.

“We’d like to be as successful [as Silicon Valley] but we don’t want to be as socially unequal,” she said.

Income inequality in Cambridge, measured as the gap between the poorest and richest residents, is the second highest in England and Wales, only behind Oxford, and it is widening.

But Goldstaub said the city had “woken up” to the challenge and that supporting local people was a key pillar of an innovation strategy which it unveiled in October.

Income inequality in Cambridge is the second highest in England and Wales | Cambridge City Council

Innovate Cambridge hopes to get the wider population behind that strategy by showing the benefits of living close to so much research, such as better cancer survival rates at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

It has also set up a community fund for founders to pledge a percentage of money they make from selling their startups in the future. 

Pro-vice-chancellor for enterprise at Cambridge University, Andy Neely, said: “We need to make it clear to people why the research and cluster is improving the quality of their lives.”

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities says investing in Cambridge will reduce regional inequality. A spokesperson for the department told POLITICO: “We must be ambitious and expand the city and we will only do that through sustainable development.”

We’ll think, you’ll make

On the three-minute walk from the city’s main railway station to the office of VC firm Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), you pass offices for Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. But the city is more proud of the startups which have spun out of its university.

New arrival Gerard Grech, who has joined the university to lead a program supporting tech founders, said he was astounded by the innovation in the city. “In my first week here I met someone who had sold businesses to Google, to Apple and to Microsoft. I could not believe it,” he said.

The area around the station is also where Goldstaub hopes to build a new innovation center, where she sees VCs, researchers and startups mingling and coming up with new ideas.

But despite its concentration of creativity, some say the government’s “Silicon Valley” ambitions should be spread across larger parts of the country, rather than focusing on Cambridge.

The city has recently signed a partnership with Manchester to pitch their respective tech hubs as a single cluster to investors, and Goldstaub says such deals should be “the exemplar” going forward.

Semiconductor firm Pragmatic provides a model for this type of development. The company is aiming to become the U.K.’s biggest semiconductor manufacturer, and its founders moved from Manchester to Cambridge for its talent. It is still headquartered in Cambridge, but does most of its manufacturing in Sedgefield, north-east England.

CIC was an early investor in Pragmatic, which completed a £500 million funding round this month.

Andrew Williamson, managing partner at CIC, said this was an example of “a hub and spoke” model which Cambridge excels in.

A report on the university’s economic impact suggests it is generating £30 billion of economic value in the U.K. and supporting 86,000 jobs | Cambridge City Council

“Where the model differs from Silicon Valley is Cambridge is 150,000 people… so we are tiny. What we can do here is fundamental research and the first few steps of the commercialization of that research, but we’re clearly not going to do manufacturing at scale.”

Sai Shivareddy has learned that over the last two years. He co-founded Nyobolt, which designs and manufactures super-fast chargers and batteries for EVs.

The company spun-out from the university and was valued at £300 million last year, but it has struggled to find suitable manufacturing sites in Cambridgeshire. Shivareddy said he is now looking to manufacture in north England or Scotland, as well as Asia.

Giving out the goodies

A report on the university’s economic impact suggests it is already helping the leveling up agenda by generating £30 billion of economic value in the U.K. and supporting 86,000 jobs, more than 30,000 of which are outside the east of England.

“The way the U.K. will compete with Silicon Valley is to think in large clusters,” Neely said, pointing to the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and the Manchester partnership. 

“Cambridge can play a really powerful role providing the boosters but it can’t just be Cambridge.”

Rebecca Simmons, chief operations office at Cambridge quantum firm Riverlane, agreed. “I don’t think Cambridge can do it all,” she said. “If we want to get bigger, we have to do it across the country. Particularly in the quantum world — Oxford, Bristol, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, they’ve all got good hubs mostly based around universities.”

“It’s important that we step up and connect the dots between the various cities in this country,” said Grech, who led startup incubator Tech Nation for a decade. “For me, Silicon Valley is a mindset. I think we should basically adopt its mindset and apply it everywhere.”



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