Politics latest: Starmer defends cabinet snub - as 'YIMBY' chancellor vows 'planning revolution' (2024)

Top news
  • Rachel Reeves pledges 'planning revolution' and mandatory housing targets as she outlines steps to deliver 'sustained economic growth'
  • Key moments from chancellor's speech:Reeves touts 'YIMBY' credentials as she vows 'interventionist approach' to housebuilding|'No time to waste' on delivering economic growth|Bites back at Truss's 'anti-growth' jibe
  • Ed Conway analysis:No big bang moment from chancellor, but hard reforms could one day deliver what UK's long struggled with
  • PM defends cabinet snub
  • Tory party board to meet this afternoon to discuss leadership race
  • Listen to Politics At Jack And Sam'sabove as you scroll - andtap hereto follow
  • Live reporting by Ben Bloch
Election fallout
  • Starmer's challenges:Tackling exhausted NHS|Looming chaos abroad|Defence to dominate early days|Small boats plan?|Rift with scientists needs healing
  • Read more from Sky News:What to expect from Labour's first 100 days|Who's who in Starmer's inner circle|A look back at life when Labour last won power|Find our other must-read election features
  • Results in full:What happened in every constituency


We've had quite a busy morning to kick off the first full week of the new Labour government.

If you're just tucking into your lunchtime sandwich, here's a quick and easy round-up for you to enjoy alongside it:

  • Rachel Reeves has delivered her first major speech as chancellor, pledging a "planning revolution" to boost housebuilding and allowing new on-shore wind projects as part of her plan to deliver "sustained economic growth";
  • She told Sky's economics and data editor Ed Conway there was "no time to waste" when it comes to delivery, and she also bit back at Liz Truss's claim Labour were part of an "anti-growth coalition";
  • Ms Reeves also touted her status as a "YIMBY" (yes in my backyard), as she backed investment by the private sector to help build more homes.
  • Sir Keir Starmer is continuing his UK tour today, following up on yesterday's Scotland visit with Wales and Northern Ireland;
  • He's also made a bunch more ministerial appointments, including his former shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds as a Foreign Office minister - while the paymaster general role likely earmarked for Jonathan Ashworth has gone to Nick Thomas-Symonds;
  • The prime minister has also turned his attention to foreign policy, vowing to improve upon Boris Johnson's "botched" Brexit deal and condemning Russia's latest attack in Ukraine.
  • Also today, the Tory party's board will meet this afternoon to discuss the leadership contest;
  • The exact timing and manner of the race remains uncertain, with some advocating for a longer contest;
  • It could leave Rishi Sunak in post as Tory leader for several months.

That's all for now - don't miss today's Politics At Jack And Sam's podcast and check back from 7pm forPolitics Hub With Sophy Ridge.


Plans to ease overcrowding in jails due to be announced this week

By Mollie Malone, news correspondent

The government is expected to announce new plans to ease overcrowding in jails across England and Wales by the end of this week.

Sky News understands one of the core proposals being considered is a lowering of the automatic release point, from the 50% mark in their sentence, to 40 or 43%.

At the moment prisoners serving standard determinate sentences - those with fixed end dates - are released at the halfway point.

Once released they serve their sentence on licence. This change could mean thousands of additional inmates with earlier releases.

Sexual, violent, and terror related offenders are excluded.

'Immediate' problems - but 'no quick fix'

It comes as Justice Secretary Shabana Mahmood today met with representatives from across the prison service, at the beginning of her first full week in the role.

Sky News understands Ms Mahmood was keen to emphasise her background as a barrister, experience in the sector, and the prime minister's former job as director of public prosecutions.

She expressed a desire to better embrace technology and AI to improve the efficiency of the service in the future.

Ms Mahmood spoke of the "immediate" problems in prisons, though sources say little detail was provided, as the government continues to weigh up its options.

Sky News understands there are around 700 spaces left in male prisons across England and Wales.

Home Secretary Yvette Cooper today admitted there is not going to be a "quick fix" to solve overcrowding in prisons, suggesting the government is "extremely concerned" by the situation they have inherited.


Pro-Palestine protesters gather outside PM's Cardiff meeting - as he admits concern over lost Muslim voters

By Tomos Evans, Wales reporter, in Cardiff

"No justice, no peace" - those were the calls of a small group of pro-Palestine protestors in Cardiff during the final leg of the prime minister's UK tour.

A few protestors gathered outside the Senedd during Sir Keir Starmer's visit to meet with Wales's first minister Vaughan Gething.

Around two dozen people marched outside the back of the Welsh parliament, calling for an end to arms sales to Israel.

There had been a heavy police presence ahead of the visit, which continued during the demonstration.

The prime minister exited via a different entrance as he departed Wales for Downing Street.

PM 'concerned' about votes lost

But before he left, the PM spoke to broadcasters, and was asked about the much reduced vote share for Labour candidates in areas with high Muslim populations, and if he accepts there's a problem in the relationship between his party and British Muslims.

There was disillusionment and anger among British Muslims over Labour's initial stance on the Israel-Gaza war.

He replied: "Of course, wherever we weren't able to secure votes, I'm concerned about that.

"But this is a clear mandate for change, for renewal, for a different way of doing politics and a return of politics to service."

Pushed on the question, he repeated the answer.


'Mutual respect' between devolved nations, says PM

More now from Prime Minister Keir Starmer, who is asked why he decided to travel to all four nations of the UK during his first few days in the top job.

Sir Keir has said he wants to reset Westminster's relationship with the devolved nations to "make sure we collaborate".

"There's mutual respect and trust as we deliver for Scotland, for Northern Ireland and for Wales," he said.

"What I said before the election is that a Labour government will be a game changer, because you would have a UK government working with the Welsh government delivering for Wales rather than the conflict that I think we've seen too much of over the last 14 years.

"This is an early recommitment to what I said in the campaign to come here physically on the third day."


Analysis: No big bang moment from chancellor - but hard reforms could one day deliver what UK's long struggled with

The first big announcement of Gordon Brown's chancellorship was, arguably, the single biggest decision and single biggest moment of his entire time in office.

In a wood panelled room on Whitehall a few days after being elected, Brown announced he was making the Bank of England independent - to the shock of many of those present.

Rachel Reeves' first big speech as chancellor happened in the same room today, but lacked the drama or big-bang surprise of that moment.

But perhaps that was the point. Reforming the planning system is not something one can announce in a single news conference.

Chancellor delivers first major speech:

This country’s inability to build the homes it needs, and the roads, railways and power grids it'll need in future, is not something one can solve by making a bit of the Treasury independent.

It is a hard job that will take grit, effort, and time.

It will involve challenging vested interests across the country, not to mention disappointing millions of voters who rather like the fact it's so difficult to get planning permission for new flats and buildings.

The Labour reforms are designed to make it easier for developers to build, including on some parts of the green belt. There will be new housing targets. The chancellor also announced an end to the ban on the construction of new onshore wind turbines.

Sky questions chancellor on growth:

None of these decisions were exactly unexpected. But as one of the business leaders who came along to the event told me afterwards, the key thing with reforming planning isn't making a single "big bang" decision but about delivery.

The reality is that it'll take years to see any windfall from changes in planning rules on the wider economy. Even so, if this government can genuinely boost housing growth to anywhere near its targets, while also encouraging a large amount of business investment, it will unlock a source of growth this country has struggled with.


PM 'very pleased' with 'real progress' already made on economy

Sir Keir Starmer has now been in government for four days, and he was asked by broadcasters if he was surprised by the state of the UK economy.

He replied: "Well, the economy's in a bad state. The whole country knows that.

"That's why there's such a strong mandate for the incoming Labour government for change. What we now have to do is get on and deliver that change."

The PM went on to say he has "had discussions in the devolved governments about the change we can bring about, the economic imperativebehind that", during his UK tour.

He pointed to decisions already taken, such as lifting the ban on onshore wind and easing the planning system, announced by the chancellor this morning.

"So in only a few days we've made real progress. There's further to go. We will be judged by our actions, not by our words," he said.

"But I'm very pleased to have got off to a start which shows that, I think, that we were serious about what we said about change."


Thornberry is 'fantastic' despite cabinet snub, PM says

One of the surprises of the early cabinet appointments was that Emily Thornberry, who served as shadow attorney general from November 2021 until the election, was not given the official role in government.

She released a statement saying she was "very sorry and surprised" to not have been appointed to government, and broadcasters asked the prime minister about that decision (see 12.30 post).

Sir Keir Starmer replied: "I'm putting together a very strong team based on delivery. We got a very strong mandate at the general election - a mandate for change, a mandate for doing politics differently, and about service.

"Emily Thornberry has been fantastic. She's got a big part to play, as has every single one of my now 412 Labour MPs."


PM keen for close relations with France whoever ends up in power

The UK's election resulted in a clear Labour landslide, but in France things are about as clear as mud.

After snap parliamentary polls called by President Emmanuel Macron, nobody has won the seats needed for an outright majority.

Left-wing coalition New Popular Front came first with more than 180 seats out of the 289 required, while Mr Macron's centrists came second with more than 160.

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally fell well short of expectation, winning more than 140 to come third.

Her party had led the way after the first round of voting, which had led to Keir Starmer being asked whether he'd be willing to work with her.

He said he stood ready to work with whoever ended up leading France, and his stance hasn't changed.

"France is obviously one of the UK's closest partners - as NATO and G7 members we have many shared interests," said the PM's spokesperson.

"The prime minister has said previously he will work with any government in Europe and across the world."

You can get the latest on the French election in our live blog:


Starmer meets Welsh first minister on final visit of UK-wide tour

The prime minister is now in Wales - the final stop on his tour of all four UK nations.

Sir Keir Starmer has been meeting with Vaughan Gething, the only current Labour first minister.


First migrants brought ashore since general election

A group of migrants has been seen being brought to shore in Dover for the first time since the general election.

Footage captured by broadcasters show a Border Force vessel arriving after picking up migrants from a small boat in the English Channel.

The number of people is currently unclear, but will be confirmed by the Home Office tomorrow in its daily update.

'Challenging' summer as search begins for border commander

It comes after Number 10 warned of a "challenging" summer to come, when better weather typically leads to a spike in the number of dangerous journeys being made.

Yesterday saw the new home secretary, Yvette Cooper, start the search for someone to lead the government's Border Security Command.

It's a key string in her bow when it comes to tackling illegal migration, chiefly via small boats crossing the Channel, with the prime minister having already scrapped the Tories' Rwanda scheme.

Once set up, the Border Security Command will have "counter-terror powers" that allows for "search and seizure".


PM doesn't want to nationalise Thames Water

The prime minister's spokesperson has held their first meeting with political journalists in Westminster since the election.

Among the questions were whether Sir Keir Starmer agreed with comments from his business secretary about Thames Water, which he said during the election campaign he didn't want to see nationalised.

"The prime minister agrees," said Sir Keir's spokesperson. "That isn't the plan."

"The government is focused on holding these companies to account."

Thames Water serves 15 million people in London and the South East, and has come under intense pressure in recent years because of its poor record on sewage, leaks, executive pay and shareholder dividends.

It's faced fines and regulatory investigations, raising questions about standards and helping push it into billions of pounds of debt.

Asked during the election campaign whether nationalisation could be a solution, the then shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said "there should be a solution that involves something short of that".

Politics latest: Starmer defends cabinet snub - as 'YIMBY' chancellor vows 'planning revolution' (2024)
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