Labour Party Wins U.K. General Election In Landslide, Ending 14 Years Of Conservative Rule

The center-left Labour Party won Thursday’s U.K. general election, ending the Conservative Party’s 14-year rule in Britain.Rishi Sunak handed his resignation to King Charles on Friday after delivering a speech outside 10 Downing Street, where he conceded his party had a rough night and announced he would step down as Conservative Party leader once his

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The center-left Labour Party won Thursday’s U.K. general election, ending the Conservative Party’s 14-year rule in Britain.

Rishi Sunak handed his resignation to King Charles on Friday after delivering a speech outside 10 Downing Street, where he conceded his party had a rough night and announced he would step down as Conservative Party leader once his successor is in place.

“I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss,” Sunak said.

Labour leader Keir Starmer was formally appointed prime minister by King Charles, who invited him to form a new government during a meeting at Buckingham Palace.

King Charles III welcomes Sir Keir Starmer during an audience at Buckingham Palace, London, where he invited the leader of the Labour Party to become Prime Minister and form a new government on July 5, 2src24.
King Charles III welcomes Sir Keir Starmer during an audience at Buckingham Palace, London, where he invited the leader of the Labour Party to become Prime Minister and form a new government on July 5, 2024.

Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

Starmer said the country “voted decisively for change, for national renewal,” but he warned it would take some time for the country to see the results of his government’s work.

“Changing a country is not like flicking a switch,” he continued. “The world is now a more volatile place. This will take a while, but have no doubt that the work of change begins immediately.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks to supporters at a watch party for the results of the U.K. general election in central London, on July 5, 2src24.
Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks to supporters at a watch party for the results of the U.K. general election in central London, on July 5, 2024.

Jeff Moore/PA Images via Getty Images

The result confirmed the polls projecting Labour would win a majority as voters turned their backs on the center-right Conservatives, who had one of their weakest showings in years.

Sunak hoped to reverse his party’s fortunes by calling an early summer election. He seemed to think that his party would benefit from inflation cooling off and voters feeling more optimistic during the summer months, among other things.

However, a series of campaign blunders, including his decision to leave D-Day celebrations in France early to take part in an ITV interview and members of his party being investigated for taking part in a betting scandal about the date of the election, only hurt his standing further.

“To the country, I would like to say first and foremost, I am sorry,” Sunak said Friday. “I have given this job my all but you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change, and yours is the only judgment that matters.”

Nigel Farage’s decision, an ally of former President Donald Trump, to stand in the election as a candidate and take over the leadership of the populist right Reform U.K. party also further chipped away at the Conservatives’ support. Farage won his seat in Clacton, after seven previous failed attempts to get elected to serve in U.K. parliament.

The Tories’ defeat appears to be the inevitable outcome of a tumultuous 14 years at the helm of the country stained by a series of scandals, the cost of living crisis as well as the weakening of public services, a priority for voters who cite health and the economy as the most important issues facing the country, according to YouGov.

The outcome of this race also marks a reversal of the 2019 general election results, where the Tories led by Boris Johnson got nearly 44% of the vote. However, two years into his premiership, Johnson was pushed out of the party following allegations of misconduct by a top ally and the flouting of COVID restrictions.

Liz Truss, who was then selected by Tory party members to take over from Johnson, became the shortest-serving prime minister in British history. Her botched economic plan spooked the markets and caused the value of the pound to tumble, prompting her ouster. Truss lost her seat in Thursday’s election.

Sunak, who served as chancellor in Johnson’s administration, succeeded Truss. While he stayed on for about two years, he ultimately failed to change the trajectory of the race. Besides, his message on immigration and the economy, particularly accusing Labour of planning tax hikes, didn’t resonate with voters.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a statement as it rained outside 1src Downing Street, announcing that the U.K. general election will take place on July 4, 2src24, in London, United Kingdom, on May 22, 2src24.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a statement as it rained outside 10 Downing Street, announcing that the U.K. general election will take place on July 4, 2024, in London, United Kingdom, on May 22, 2024.

Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu via Getty Images

Starmer, a former human rights lawyer and prosecutor, has been given a chance to govern the country. Starmer, Labour’s former shadow Brexit secretary, was picked to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, who resigned after the party’s poor performance in 2019, where the party finished second, trailing the Tories by nearly 12 percentage points. (Corbyn won the seat in Islington North on Thursday after running as an independent candidate).

“Election victories don’t fall from the sky, they’re hard won and hard fought for, and this one could only be won by a changed Labour Party,” Starmer said earlier.

Labour has held a double-digit lead against the Conservatives for the past two years as voters appeared ready to turn the page. However, in the campaign’s final days, Starmer reminded the British of the stakes of this election, urging them to reject complacency and turn out to support them.

Starmer, 61, has also pledged to improve living standards across the country during his upcoming five-year term. He promised Labour “will break with recent years by always putting country before party.”

“I am sure there are some people who would prefer a less sober message,” Starmer wrote Saturday in The Observer. “But the Tories have kicked the hope out of people so thoroughly, to expect a chorus of optimism would be like scattering seeds on stony ground. I believe in hope, and believe we can inspire it again.”

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