PM seeks ‘immediate reset’ of relationship with devolved nations on UK-wide tour

The Prime Minister said he was seeking an “immediate reset” of the relationship between the Westminster Government and devolved nations as he embarks on a tour of all four corners of Britain.

Sir Keir Starmer insisted “respect” would be the key ingredient in the bond between the new UK administration and its Irish, Scottish and Welsh counterparts.

His first visit will be to Edinburgh on Sunday, where the PM will say he wants to “turn disagreement into co-operation” with the SNP north of the border.

General Election 2024
Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer hosts his first Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street following the landslide election victory (Chris Eades/The Sun/PA)

“People across the United Kingdom are bound by shared beliefs. Fundamental values of respect, service and community which define us as a great nation,” Sir Keir said.

“That begins today with an immediate reset of my Government’s approach to working with the First and deputy First Ministers, because meaningful co-operation centred on respect will be key to delivering change across our United Kingdom.

“Together we can begin the work to rebuild our country with a resolute focus on serving working people once again.”

Using his first 24 hours in office to set the tone for his new Government, Sir Keir has promised to turn his back on “tribalism” in politics and usher in an era of “stability” and “moderation”.

Part of that will be an effort to “push power and resource out of Whitehall”, and open his door to those with “skin in the game” who know what is best for their communities, the new Prime Minister has suggested.

Sir Keir’s whistlestop tour of the four nations comes ahead of a packed first week in office, with little time to settle in at Number 10 as he prepares to head to the Nato summit in Washington on Tuesday.

Sir Keir Starmer speaks during a press conference after his first Cabinet meeting
Sir Keir Starmer speaks during a press conference after his first Cabinet meeting (Claudia Greco/PA)

Ahead of travelling north of the border, where he is expected to meet First Minister John Swinney for talks, he said: “Our UK Government will place Scotland back at the beating heart of everything we do.

“To the people of Scotland, my message is simple and clear: You are at the heart of how we unleash prosperity across the country. We will rebuild a strong Scotland at the forefront of our decade of national renewal.

“My offer to the Scottish Government is the same. We can turn disagreement into co-operation and, through meaningful co-operation and a genuine seat at the table, deliver change for a generation.”

Earlier on Saturday, Sir Keir announced during a Downing Street press conference that he would also squeeze in a meeting with the metro mayors on Tuesday before heading to the US.

He said his “door is open” to regional leaders of all political stripes as he outlined plans to “discuss with them their part in delivering the growth that we need across the United Kingdom”.

Facing his first grilling from the media after becoming PM, Sir Keir also said:

– When pressed about tax hikes, that he will have to take “tough decisions” and approach challenges with a “raw honesty”.

– The previous government’s controversial plan to send migrants to Rwanda was “dead and buried before it started”.

– He would chair cross-departmental “mission delivery boards” to “put into action the plans that we have set out in our manifesto”.

– It was “impossible” to say the Government would stop the early release of prisoners, saying overcrowding was a “monumental failure of the last government” and “we can’t fix it overnight”.

– The Government has already started to work on fixing the “broken” NHS, and that the effort to get 40,000 extra appointments a week up and running as pledged “starts straight away”.

After sweeping to a historic victory at the polls, Sir Keir said his party had received “a mandate to do politics differently”.

“This will be a politics and a Government that is about delivery, is about service. Self-interest is yesterday’s politics,” he said.

The news conference on Saturday came after he chaired the first meeting of his new Cabinet, which largely mirrors his shadow team before the election.

Other ministerial appointments carried on over the weekend, with former army officer Dan Jarvis made a Home Office minister and Jim McMahon and Matthew Pennycook ministers in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Meanwhile, Ellie Reeves replaced Anneliese Dodds as party chairwoman and New Labour figures were also brought back in to the fold.

Former home secretary Jacqui Smith, who served in Gordon Brown’s Cabinet, will enter the Lords as an education minister while Sir Tony Blair’s former health secretary Alan Milburn has been tipped for a role in government helping to drive waiting lists down.

Sir Keir will make his debut on the international stage as Britain’s premier when he flies to Washington for the Nato gathering next week, which is expected to include discussions on support for Ukraine.

The Prime Minister, who continues to receive calls from world leaders, will also host the European Political Community summit in the UK on July 18.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary David Lammy flew to Germany for his first trip abroad as the UK’s top diplomat.

He will travel to Poland and Sweden on Sunday as he seeks to bolster ties with European partners – one of the key priorities of the new administration.

“I want to be absolutely clear, European nations are our friends,” Mr Lammy told The Observer.

“Let us put the Brexit years behind us.

“We are not going to rejoin the single market and the customs union but there is much that we can do together.”