Starmer promises to ‘repair our public services’ after historic election win

Starmer will officially become prime minister and appoint his cabinet later today

Starmer will officially become prime minister and appoint his cabinet later today

Keir Starmer will enter Downing Street later today where he is expected to appoint his first cabinet as prime minister.

The Labour Party won a landslide victory in yesterday’s general election with 412 seats in total and a 174 seat majority.

Speaking this morning, Sir Keir Starmer said: “We did it. Change begins now. A changed Labour party, ready to serve our country, ready to restore Britain to the service of working people.”

Rishi Sunak conceded defeat in the early hours. At his constituency election count, Sunak said: “The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight.. and I take responsibility for the loss.”

Among those losing their seats was former education secretary Gillian Keegan who came second to the Liberal Democrats in her Chichester constituency. (see page 7).

The Conservatives now cross the floor to the opposition benches with significantly reduced numbers. The Lib Dems however bolstered their seats on the opposition benches having ousted Keegan, skills minister Luke Hall and SEND minister David Johnston. 

Bridget Phillipson is widely expected to be confirmed as secretary of state for education later today, but it is not yet clear who will emerge as her junior ministers.

With Phillipson at the helm of the Department for Education, junior appointments are expected over the weekend.

It was also unclear whether Seema Malhotra, who had shadowed the skills brief since September, would take the role in government.

Malhotra was re-elected in the safe Labour constituency of Feltham and Heston overnight. But, unlike Phillipson, Malhotra has not been visibly campaigning on Labour’s FE and skills policies.

Speaking at a rally this morning, Starmer said: “We did it. Change begins now. A changed Labour party, ready to serve our country, ready to restore Britain to the service of working people.”

He vowed to “return politics to public service” and “show it can be a force for good”.

“We have the chance to repair our public services because we changed the party… I don’t promise you it will be easy. Changing a country is not like flicking a switch, its hard work, patient work, determined work.

“And we will have to get moving immediately. But even when the going gets tough, and it will, remember tonight and always what this is all about.”

He talked of the “comfort” his parents took from believing that “Britain would always be better for their children… a hope that working class families like mine could build their families around.

“It is a hope that might not burn brightly at the moment, but we have earned the mandate to relight the fire. That is the purpose of this party and of this government.

“Today we start the next chapter. A mission of national renewal to start to rebuild our country.”

State school cabinet

Analysis by social mobility charity the Sutton Trust found 84 per cent of Labour’s current shadow team attended a state comprehensive school, while 6 per cent went to a grammar school. Just one in 10 were privately educated.

Although Starmer may shuffle some of his top team following his election victory, the proportion of state-educated ministers suggests a sea-change from previous Conservative and even Labour administrations.

FE Week found three cabinet ministers who were educated at an FE college.

Angela Rayner, the deputy prime minister, got a level 2 in social care and took courses in counselling and British Sign Language at Stockton College.

Yvette Cooper, vying to become home secretary today, did her A Levels at Alton College.

And business secretary Jonathan Raynolds studied at City of Sunderland College.

While shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth studied at Bury College, he lost his Leicester South seat to an independent last night.

New MPs will arrive in Westminster on Tuesday where they will elect a speaker and begin to be sworn in.

Newly appointed ministers will begin preparations for the King’s Speech which will take place the following week on Wednesday, July 17.

Legislation announced in the King’s Speech could include a bill to replace the current apprenticeship levy with a skills and growth levy.

Skills England, a new “cross-government taskforce”, will decide what non-apprenticeship qualifications employers can spend their levy funds on.

New ministers will face questions in parliament for the first time on Tuesday, July 23, and Starmer’s first PMQs as prime minister will happen a day later.

The incoming Labour government has been pressed to make quick decisions on level 3 qualification reforms, with college leaders demanding an urgent pause on removal of funding for swathes of qualifications. Colleges also want clarity on the future of T Levels and the Advanced British Standard.

FE Week understands officials are already being mobilised from the Department for Education’s existing arms-length bodies to staff Skills England from as early as next week.

Skills England will also be responsible for helping the new government reduce reliance on foreign workers in key sectors such as construction, health and social care.

And it will be the gatekeeper for a ‘technical excellence colleges’ bidding round in the future.

Former prime minister Rishi Sunak will formally resign at Buckingham Palace later today. Conventionally, leaders of political parties that lose their election campaigns stand down shortly afterwards. Whoever takes over will need to rapidly form a shadow cabinet to replace the likes of Keegan.

Attention will quickly turn to Rachel Reeves’ first Budget and spending review as Britain’s first women chancellor.

Labour was accused of participating in “a conspiracy of silence” during the election campaign over billions of pounds of cuts to unprotected public services including further education. 

The Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighted further education as a sector vulnerable to cuts alongside courts, prisons and local government.

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