PM to visit all four nations of UK – as he says Rwanda scheme 'dead and buried'

By John Mercury July 7, 2024

The new prime minister has announced he will tour all four nations of the UK arguing he had secured a nationwide mandate with his landslide election victory.

Sir Keir Starmer also insisted Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda scheme is “dead and buried” after being quizzed by journalists.

The prime minister said he will travel to Scotland first before heading to Northern Ireland, Wales and back to England in a push to improve working relationships.

Giving his first news conference in Downing Street since taking office, the Labour leader also said “mission delivery boards” would be established to deliver on his party’s priorities, including economic growth, which he would chair.

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He was speaking after holding his inaugural cabinet meeting, where he warned his top team there was a huge amount of work to do and they would be “judged on actions, not on words”.

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Sir Keir said his election win that ended 14-years of Tory rule had given Labour a “clear mandate to govern for all four corners of the United Kingdom”.

He added: “For the first time in 20-plus years we have a majority in England, in Scotland and in Wales and that is a clear mandate to govern for all four corners of the United Kingdom and therefore I shall set off tomorrow to be in all four nations.”

During his tour, he would meet with first ministers and “establish a way of working across the United Kingdom that will be different and better to the way of working that we’ve had in recent years and to recognise the contributions of all four nations”.

Sir Keir said: “At the cabinet meeting, I also discussed mission delivery, how we would put into action the plans that we had set out in our manifesto and that we will have mission delivery boards to drive through the change that we need, and that I will be chairing those boards to make sure that it’s clear to everyone that they are my priority in government.”

He went on: “I reminded the entire cabinet, that we will be judged on actions, not on words.”

The prime minister restated the Labour government’s commitment to economic growth, which his administration is relying on to deliver vital investment in public services without hiking taxes or borrowing more cash.

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As part of this he would be meeting elected regional mayors of all parties given that “those with skin in the game know what’s best for their communities”.

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Sir Keir said: “There’s no monopoly on good ideas. I’m not a tribal politician. And the principle I operate to whether it’s mayors or other elected representatives, is that where regional leaders want to deliver for their area, then, regardless of the colour of their rosette, my door is open.

“My government will work with them.”

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He added: “So this will be a politics and a government that is about delivery, is about service.

“Self-interest is yesterday’s politics. I want a politics and a country that works for you.”

Later answering questions, Sir Keir branded as “a gimmick” the previous Conservative government’s plan to send small boat migrants on a one-way trip to central Africa in a bid to tackle Channel crossings.

He said: “The Rwanda scheme was dead and buried before it started. It’s never been a deterrent.”

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Sir Keir also insisted it was “impossible” to say if the government would stop the early release of prisoners, introduced by the Tory administration in response to a lack of jail spaces.

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He said: “We’ve got too many prisoners, not enough prisons.

“That’s a monumental failure of the last government on any basic view of government to get to a situation where you haven’t got enough prison places for prisoners, doesn’t matter what your political stripe, that is a failure of government.”

He added: “We will fix that, but we can’t fix it overnight and therefore it is impossible to simply say we will stop the early release of prisoners and you wouldn’t believe me if I did say it.”

Next week, Sir Keir will make his debut on the international stage when he travels to Washington DC for the NATO leaders’ summit.

He will also host the European Political Community Summit in the UK on 18 July.

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