Starmer Hails ‘Most Diverse’ Parliament in History

In his inaugural address to the Commons as Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer celebrated the newly formed Parliament as the most diverse in British history, boasting a record number of representatives from diverse racial and gender backgrounds.

Leaders Pledge to Serve the Nation

In his speech, Starmer vowed to usher in a new era of selfless politics, replacing the old guard with a “politics of service”. Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak, in his address, reiterated his apology to Conservative MPs who lost their seats in the recent election and pledged to lead the opposition with professionalism, effectiveness, and humility.

Labour’s resounding victory resulted in a significant majority, securing 412 seats, while the Conservatives suffered a historic low, winning only 121 seats. The election saw a massive influx of new faces, with 335 out of 650 elected representatives being first-time MPs. The large number of new Labour MPs led to a packed government side in the Commons, with at least 60 members standing due to limited seating.

Parliamentary Milestones

Sir Keir Starmer received a standing ovation from the Labour benches as he entered the Commons, briefly exchanging words with his predecessor, Rishi Sunak, before taking their seats. This election marked a historic first, with women comprising over 40% of elected MPs. Additionally, 14% of MPs now come from ethnic-minority backgrounds, reflecting a significant shift in the parliamentary landscape.

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer expressed his pride in Labour’s contributions to enhancing parliamentary diversity. He noted that the new cohort boasts a historic milestone: the largest group of LGBT+ MPs in any global parliament. He also honoured Diane Abbott, the newly appointed Mother of the House, a distinction reserved for the longest-serving female MP, recognizing her dedication and commitment to public service.

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer praised Diane Abbott’s remarkable career, spanning decades, during which she tirelessly advocated for a Parliament that genuinely reflects modern Britain’s diversity. Initially, Abbott’s candidacy for Hackney North and Stoke Newington was uncertain due to her suspension from Labour last year over remarks about racism.

However, she was reinstated in May, and Sir Keir subsequently confirmed her as Labour’s candidate. Rishi Sunak, the outgoing Conservative leader, acknowledged Abbott’s groundbreaking legacy, hailing her as a pioneering figure and inspiration for numerous young women of colour.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vows to Scrutinize Government

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, pledged to hold the government accountable on various issues, including health, social care, sewage, and the cost of living. With 72 MPs, the Liberal Democrats form the third-largest party in the Commons.

SNP Westminster Leader Extends Olive Branch

Stephen Flynn, Westminster leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), acknowledged the significant reduction in SNP MPs from 48 to nine. He expressed his willingness to work constructively with other parties to serve the best interests of their constituents. Flynn also paid tribute to Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the re-elected Speaker, with whom he had previously clashed over a vote on an SNP call for a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict.

Speaker Re-Elected Amidst Tradition and Tribute

Sir Lindsay Hoyle was re-elected unopposed as Speaker, presiding over Commons debates and upholding parliamentary rules. Despite past disagreements, Flynn extended an olive branch, acknowledging the importance of moving forward. Sir Lindsay reaffirmed his commitment to being “fair, impartial, and independent”. Following his re-election, Labour MP Cat Smith and Conservative Sir David Davis traditionally dragged him to the Speaker’s chair, symbolizing his reluctance to assume the position.

Reform UK Leader Criticizes Predecessor

Nigel Farage, leader of Reform UK, used his speech to criticize Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s predecessor, John Bercow. Farage’s remarks drew groans from some in the chamber, as he contrasted Sir Lindsay with “the little man that was there before you,” who “besmirched the office” by attempting to overturn the Brexit referendum result. This comment alluded to Bercow’s controversial decisions on Brexit votes during his tenure.

Newly Elected MPs Take Oaths

Following the speeches, MPs began the process of being sworn in, making an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Crown. This marks the beginning of their official duties as members of Parliament. Notably, Reform UK, led by Farage, secured five seats in the election, earning them the title “the new kids on the block.”

Leaders from Various Parties Address the Chamber

In addition to Farage’s speech, other party leaders also addressed the chamber, including:

– DUP leader Gavin Robinson
– Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader Liz Savile Roberts
– Green co-leader Adrian Ramsay
– SDLP Westminster leader Colum Eastwood
– Alliance MP Sorcha Eastwood
– TUV leader Jim Allistair

Their speeches highlighted the diversity of perspectives and priorities in the newly formed Parliament.

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