British Conservatives Have Worst Election in 190 Years; Labor's Keir Starmer Is the New Prime Minister

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Britain’s Labor Party won a historic landslide victory Thursday, capturing 412 of 650 seats in Parliament. This election victory marks Labor’s return to power for the first time in fourteen years. The Conservative Party made its worst showing in its 190-year history, losing 250 seats. It will control 121 seats in the new Parliament.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak offered his resignation to King Charles II early Friday morning, which was immediately accepted. Sir Keir Starmer, a lawyer with extensive experience as a prosecutor, will be the new prime minister. He entered politics in 2015 and became Labor leader in 2020. He ran on a platform of:

  • Healthcare: Cut NHS waiting lists by providing 40,000 more appointments each week, funded by tackling tax avoidance and closing tax ‘loopholes’
  • Immigration: Launch a ‘border security command’ to stop people-smuggling gangs from arranging small boat crossings.
  • Housing: Build 1.5m new homes by reforming planning laws and introduce a scheme to give first-time buyers “first dibs” in new housing developments
  • Education: Recruit 6,500 teachers, paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools.

The rout of the Conservatives followed Sunak calling a snap election in May, even though his party was being trounced in polling.

Because of the British parliamentary system, the devastating defeat suffered by Conservatives yesterday is nuanced. Labor winning a third of the popular vote resulted in it taking nearly two-thirds of the seats.

There were two smaller headlines in this election. The Scottish National Party was wiped out. It lost 38 seats, leaving it with just nine. My colleague Neil McCabe covered the other story (see Nigel Farage Redux: Reform UK Party Ascendant As British Voters End Conservative Party’s 14-Year Reign). The Reform Party picked up four seats and sent its leader, Nigel Farage, to Parliament for the first time. It will take another couple of elections to determine what that means. From my point of view, Reform’s role in this election was handing the government over to Labor as a protest vote against the Conservative embrace of COVID lockdowns, rampant illegal immigration, and wokeness. 

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