General election latest: Sir Keir Starmer delivering first major campaign speech as parties clash over security (2024)

General election called for 4 July
  • Starmer delivering first major speech of general election campaign - watch and follow live now
  • PM 'to double down on national service plan' as parties focus on security
  • Tory defence minister criticised national service last week
  • Farage challenged on 'offensive' comments about British Muslims
  • Live reporting by Ben Bloch
Expert analysis
  • Tamara Cohen:Farage's incendiary claims a question for Reform
  • Adam Boulton:Why PM's big bet on security likely won't pay off
  • Deborah Haynes:Next PM will have no time to play politics with defence
Election essentials
  • Trackers:Who's leading polls?|Is PM keeping promises?
  • Subscribe to Sky's politics podcasts:Electoral Dysfunction|Politics At Jack And Sam's
  • Read more:What happens next?|Which MPs are standing down?|Key seats to watch|How to register to vote|What counts as voter ID?|Check if your constituency's changing|Sky's coverage plans


National service policy 'a sort of teenage dad's army'

Sir Keir Starmer says he is "proud of these first steps and they are a new path for out country".

"They are a new path for our country," he says.

"A plan that will turn the page, deliver stability and change. And because we've been so ruthless in making sure these policies are deliverable, fully funded, ready to go, we will also provide the certainty that working people, businesses and communities need - a clear direction."

Sir Keir says the PM has a "new plan every week" and "the spinning around is symbolic of the chaos and instability" of the Tory party.

He adds: "You've seen that again over the past few days. The desperation of this national service policy, a sort of teenage dad's army.

"Paid for by cancelling levelling up funding and money from tax avoidance that we would use to invest in our NHS."

He goes on to say elections are "about values" and "character" and a bigger question - "whose side are you on?"


Starmer sets out first steps for government

Sir Keir Starmer sets out his first steps for government.

"Stability" in the economy is "the first step" and a "non-negotiable pact with working people".

His second step is cutting NHS waiting times with 4,000 [40,000] extra appointments every week, "paid for by cracking down on tax avoidance and non-doms".

The third step is a "new border security command" with new resources and counter-terrorism powers to crack down on people-smuggling gangs that operate small boat crossings over the Channel.

"Britain will secure our borders," he declares.

The fourth step is Great British Energy, which will be "owned by the taxpayer, making money for the taxpayer", bringing clean energy to make us energy independent, while cutting bills "for good".

His fifth step is cracking down on anti-social behaviour which "blights communities, big and small", and pledges 13,000 new police and community support officers, "paid for by cutting down on wasteful contracts".

The sixth step is 6,500 new teachers in the classroom by removing tax breaks on private schools, which is "a down payment on an education system that we will reform with more creativity, more confidence, more resilience for all children".


PM 'prepared to blow the economy up all over again'

The Labour leader says on the "end to the Tory chaos we can rebuild our country".

"I'm fed up of listening to the prime minister tell you that we've turned the corner," he says.

"It is a form of disrespect in itself.

"Taxes are higher than at any time since the war. Chaos hitting every working family to the tune of £5,000.

"And the prime minister prepared to do it all over again."

He goes on to say for this election either the public's pension is under threat or Rishi Sunak is "prepared to blow the economy up all over again".

"He hasn't learnt a thing," he adds.


Starmer: 'I have changed the Labour Party permanently'

The Labour leader says he doesn't know if his focus on "country first and party second" is "a new politics, or whether it's simply a return to something older that used to be taken for granted".

"But public service is the bare minimum you should expect," he says.

"And you also deserve the security, the certainty - the basic, ordinary hope that Britain will be better for your children."

He "always had that" back in the 1970s, he argues, saying his parents "always believed that, in the end, hard work would be rewarded, and Britain would be better for their children, for me."

That is particularly important for working class families like his, he explains.

"I believe it's what working people want now more than anything - they want to believe in the future."

Sir Keir admits: "Whatever the polls say, I know there are countless people who haven't decided how they'll vote in this election."

He says people are "fed up with the failure, chaos and division of the Tories", but question if Labour can be trusted.

"My answer is yes you can – because I have changed this party. Permanently."

He goes on: "The very foundation of any good government is economic security, border security, and national security.

"Make no mistake, if the British people give us the opportunity to serve, then this is their core test. It is always their core test.

"And I haven't worked for four years on this, just to stop now. This is the foundation, the bedrock that our manifesto and our first steps will be built upon."


'Country first and party second'

Sir Keir Starmer say hisbackground has stayed with him.

"It's shaped the plan that I've drawn up for Britain," he says.

He says "people now feel more and more of the decisions that affect their community are taken by people who are not only miles away, but have little empathy for their challenges".

"A politics that is at best doing something to people, not with them," he says.

The Labour leader says this is "about the lack of respect".

He says: "That is the canary in the mine of injustice."

Sir Keir says "politics has to be about service" and "everyone deserves the chance to get on".

"Country first and party second," he says.


Starmer hails 'uncomplaining resilience' of English countryside amid 'hardship'

Sir Keir Starmer opens his speech by saying his "character", like everyone's is "shaped by where I started in life".

He talks about where he grew up, on the Surrey-Kent border, saying it is a place that "is about as English as it gets".

He says he felt "quiet, uncomplaining resilience" and the "togetherness of the countryside".

"And to be honest, it's just as well because you need it.

"Because anyone who thinks that hardship in Britain is found only in our cities, anyone who thinks there's no struggle outside of our cities - yes, even here in the south east - let me tell you, they know nothing of the countryside."

The Labour leader says life was not easy for his family, explaining that his dad was a toolmaker and his mum was a nurse, although she had a "debilitating illness" for much of her adult life.

"Her illness did shape our lives," he says, either from not knowing at times if she would "pull through", to her "sheer willpower" to be able to keep walking.

He turns to the "hard times" growing up in the 1970s, saying: "I know what out of control inflation feels like, how the rising cost of living can make you scared of the postman coming down the path - will he bring another bill we can't afford."

He says his family was "scared of debt" so "would choose the bill they wouldn't pay" rather than going into debt, and wouldn't pay the phone bill.


Watch live: Starmer delivers first major speech of election campaign

The Labour leader is on his feet in West Sussex delivering his first major speech of the general election campaign.

Sir Keir Starmer will say that there are "countless people who haven't decided how they’ll vote in this election", and appeal to them to back his "changed" party.

He will argue that people are "fed up with the failure, chaos and division of the Tories, but they still have questions about us".

The Labour leader will also make the case that his party is ready to meet the "core tests" set by the British people for government.

Watch live on Sky News, in the stream above, and follow live updates here in the Politics Hub.


National service policy 'sprung on' Tory candidates and ministers

As conversation rages on social media about Rishi Sunak's plan to make 18-year-olds do national service, a serving minister has weighed in.

Steve Baker, who is standing for re-election as the Tory MP for Wycombe, has said the plan was "sprung on candidates, so of whom are relevant ministers".

He explained that if it were a government policy, it "would have been developed by ministers on the advice of officials and collectively agreed", and he would have had a say on behalf of Northern Ireland as a minister for that department.

But suggesting he was not consulted, he said: "This proposal was developed by a political adviser or advisers and sprung on candidates, some of whom are relevant ministers."


ICYMI: Farage challenged over 'offensive' comments about British Muslims

Nigel Farage has argued on Sky News that a "growing number" of young Muslims in the UK do not subscribe to British values.

The Reform UK honorary president told Sky News'sSunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: "We have a growing number of young people in this country who do not subscribe to British values.

"In fact, loathe much of what we stand for. I think we see them on the streets of London every Saturday."

Asked if "we are talking about Muslims here", Mr Farage said: "We are. And I'm afraid I found some of the recent surveys saying that 46% of British Muslims support Hamas - support a terrorist organisation that is proscribed in this country."

The former UKIP and Brexit Party leader was quoting a poll commissioned by the Henry Jackson Society in April that found one in four British Muslims believe Hamas committed murder and rape in Israel on 7 October last year.

Read more from our political reporter Alix Culbertsonhere:


Podcast: The Week... We eat humble pie for missing the election announcement

Two of Westminster's best-connected journalists, Sky News's Sam Coates and Politico's Jack Blanchard, guide you through their top predictions for the next seven days in British politics.

On this week's episode, Jack and Sam talk about their "epic fail" and reveal how they missed the biggest political story of the year - that Rishi Sunak would call a general election for 4 July.

Now the campaign wheels are in motion, Jack and Sam discuss what's in store over the next few weeks leading up to the vote, and whether we'll see the return of some familiar faces as candidates after a mass exodus of Conservative MPs.

Also in this episode, from campaign plane rides and party manifestos to TV debates, Jack and Sam unpack how Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are hoping to steer the narrative of what could be the most consequential election in 14 years.

👉Listen above then tap here to follow Politics at Jack at Sam's wherever you get your podcasts👈

Email with your thoughts and rate how their predictions play out: or

General election latest: Sir Keir Starmer delivering first major campaign speech as parties clash over security (2024)


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