Sir Keir Starmer sweeps to power as Truss is biggest scalp in Tory bloodbath

Sir Keir Starmer will be the UK’s new Labour prime minister after a Conservative rout saw former premier Liz Truss and a dozen serving Cabinet members lose their seats.

Outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he took responsibility for the electoral mauling inflicted on his party as it suffered its worst ever result.

At a victory rally in London, Sir Keir said the country can now “get its future back”.

He told jubilant activists “We did it”, adding: “Change begins now.”

It marks a spectacular turnaround since 2019, when Boris Johnson won an 80-seat Conservative majority and Labour suffered its worst result since 1935.

Sir Keir said: “Four-and-a-half years of work changing the party, this is what it is for – a changed Labour Party ready to serve our country, ready to restore Britain to the service of working people.

“And, across our country, people will be waking up to the news, relief that a weight has been lifted, a burden finally removed from the shoulders of this great nation.

“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.”

The Labour leader’s speech at the Tate Modern art gallery came shortly after Mr Sunak publicly conceded defeat.

At his acceptance speech after being re-elected in Richmond and Northallerton, Mr Sunak said: “The Labour Party has won this General Election and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory.”

Mr Sunak added: “The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight, there is much to learn… and I take responsibility for the loss.”

On a dramatic night:

  • Ms Truss lost to Labour in Norfolk South West, where she had been defending a notional majority of more than 24,000.
  • Twelve ministers who sat around the Cabinet table were ousted, comfortably exceeding the previous record of seven set in 1997.
  • Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, Welsh Secretary David TC Davies, Transport Secretary Mark Harper, Attorney General Victoria Prentis and veterans minister Johnny Mercer lost to Labour.
  • Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk, Science Secretary Michelle Donelan, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer and Illegal Immigration Minister Michael Tomlinson lost to the Liberal Democrats.
  • Chief whip Simon Hart lost to Plaid Cymru.
  • Tory deputy chairman Jonathan Gullis and former cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg were beaten by Labour.
  • But party chairman Richard Holden won by just 20 votes in Basildon and Billericay and outgoing Chancellor Jeremy Hunt held off a Lib Dem challenge in Godalming and Ash.
  • Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held on to his seat as an independent.
  • Reform UK leader Nigel Farage won a Commons seat at his eighth attempt and promised his party would “stun all of you” as it picked up four Commons seats.
  • The Greens also picked up four seats, including co-leader Carla Denyer defeating shadow culture secretary Thangam Debbonaire in Bristol Central.
  • Shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth, who played a prominent role in the party’s media campaign, lost his seat to an independent as Labour’s stance on Gaza cost them votes.

Labour has exceeded 400 Commons seats, with the Conservatives set to fall well below their previous low of 156 MPs set in 1906.

The result is likely to trigger a fresh round of infighting within the Tory Party as MPs scramble to replace Mr Sunak, who is expected to resign in the wake of the defeat.

Mr Shapps was the first confirmed Cabinet casualty of a brutal night for the Conservatives and he hit out at the Tory infighting which had turned off voters.

He said: “We have tried the patience of traditional Conservative voters with a propensity to create an endless political soap opera out of internal rivalries and divisions which have become increasingly indulgent and entrenched.”

He said there is a danger the Tory Party could “go off on some tangent, condemning ourselves to years of lacklustre opposition”.

Ms Mordaunt, who was likely to have been a leadership contender if she had survived, said her party had taken a “battering because it failed to honour the trust that people had placed in it”.

She warned against a retreat to the right: “Our renewal as a party and a country will not be achieved by us talking to an ever smaller slice of ourselves but being guided by the people of our country. And if we want again to be the natural party of government, then our values must be the people’s.

Former home secretary Suella Braverman, who will now be considered a leading contender to replace Mr Suank, said the party had let the British people down.

“You, the great British people, voted for us over 14 years and we did not keep our promises,” she said.

“I will do everything in my power to rebuild trust.

“We need to listen to you, you have spoken to us very clearly.”

The Liberal Democrats achieved a record result, with at least 69 MPs.

Sir Ed Davey said: “We have swept to victory in seats from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.”

Reform received more than four million votes, around 600,000 more than the Liberal Democrats, but thanks to the first-past-the-post system they won just four seats.

Mr Farage will be joined in the Commons by former Tory Lee Anderson, party chairman Richard Tice and former Southampton FC chairman Rupert Lowe in being elected to Parliament.

After winning in Clacton, Mr Farage said there is now a “massive gap on the centre-right of British politics and my job is to fill it”.

But he added it is not just the Tories he is taking on, saying “We’re coming for Labour” and “This is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you”.

In Wales, the Tories were wiped out, while in Scotland Labour were rampant.

First Minister and SNP leader John Swinney told the PA news agency: “We’ve got to face up to the realities of the situation that we are in and we’ve got to build the trust and the confidence of the public in Scotland.”

Outgoing Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross lost to the SNP’s Seamus Logan in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.

In a sign that Sir Keir’s landslide may not have been driven by overwhelming public enthusiasm, turnout at the election was on course to be the lowest for more than 20 years.

After 630 of 650 results had been declared, the turnout figure stood at 59.8%, compared with 67.3% overall in 2019.

If the figure stays around 59.8%, it would be the lowest turnout at a general election since 2001, when it was 59.4%.

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