UK election: what will Labour's big win bring?

Labour leader Keir Starmer has won a landslide victory in the UK general elections with his promise of "change". Labour won a large majority in the House of Commons with 412 of the 650 seats, while the Tories suffered heavy losses and now have just 121 seats. Commentators wonder what exactly the promised change can and should entail.

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The Irish Times (IE) /

The honeymoon will be short

Labour leader Keir Starmer must deliver real improvements on the double, The Irish Times urges:

“His position is not as strong as it looks, facing a volatile and fed-up electorate. To confront Britain's problems he must be prepared to take difficult decisions, while having the political craft to take voters with him. Labour may gain for now simply by not being the Conservative Party. The chaos of recent years will be no more. But this will not be enough. The honeymoon will be short. Starmer must work quickly to deliver real improvements in areas that affect people's lives.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Exit from Brexit now possible

Handelsblatt believes that the new government should now consider the idea of rejoining the EU:

“Starmer ruled out the possibility of the UK returning to the European single market in his lifetime during the election campaign. However, if he takes the voters' mandate seriously, he will hardly be able to permanently ignore Labour voters, 80 percent of whom would prefer to see their country back in the EU according to a new poll. With a historic parliamentary majority behind him, now is the time to correct the biggest mistake in British politics in the last half century.”

Kauppalehti (FI) /

Regret about wrong decisions

The UK is a good example of the consequences of populist politics, Kauppalehti believes:

“It's possible that the EU would not even want the UK back, even if it wanted to return. The EU was appalled by the Brexit decision and now the UK is to serve as a cautionary tale for others. But Britain may now be more willing to improve its relations with the EU and move closer to the bloc again. ... Populist daydreams and retreating into one's own borders are very much in vogue in current politics in Europe and all over the world. The UK is a good example of what happens when the population realises what the consequences are. Then people want change again.”

The Sun (GB) /

Govern from the centre ground

The Sun, which supported Labour for the first time since 1997 in this election, calls on Starmer to make the most of his majority:

“Sir Keir is in an unprecedented position - the winner by a huge margin, yet with the nation still unconvinced by him. He must change that. His party, meanwhile, must not delude themselves that their triumph represents a national shift to the Left. It does not. This was mainly a vote AGAINST the divided Tories. Labour must do as its leadership promises and govern from the centre ground. ... We remain worried about taxes surging ever higher, the vast welfare bill entrenched, legal and illegal immigration ... and the ruinous dash to Net Zero.”

Echo24 (CZ) /

Tories on the brink of the abyss

Echo24 comments:

“This is the worst result ever for the Conservative Party. Worse than the historic defeat of 1997. Nevertheless, if the current result is confirmed it will be better than expected. ... Around 130 seats will give the Conservatives enough power to carry on. And the Tory party will also secure its status as the official opposition, which goes to the second-largest party and offers various advantages such as the preferential right to question the prime minister. This outcome gives the Conservatives a chance for self-reflection and to start planning a comeback. But that's at least five years away now. The Conservative Party has not disappeared at the polls, but it is on the brink of the abyss.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

First-past-the-post hampers Farage's success

Reform UK's small number of seats should not obscure its electoral success of Reform UK, notes Gazeta Wyborcza:

“The Tories' defeat was not only due to their mistakes in government but also to the fragmentation of the right-wing electorate. Part of it has been taken over by the Reform UK party, to which Nigel Farage, one of the masterminds of Brexit and a Donald Trump supporter, had returned. ... Reform UK would have achieved better results were it not for the first-past-the-post system, which hugely favours the largest parties. Nonetheless, the 13 seats it secured mean that millions of people must have voted for Farage's grouping.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Democracy also about getting rid of governments

La Vanguardia says the voting patterns fit in with the self-identity of the British:

“The British are generally conservative because they believe they have a lot to preserve. This is the country of antique dealers. ... The Conservative Party represents the instincts of the country to a large degree. But when the British feel that their government has lost its balance, they get rid of it. ... Keir Starmer's Labour Party didn't want to push Rishi Sunak out. It let him sink into irrelevance. ... An interesting observation: as Europe veers to the right and far right, the British are surrendering their conservatism to the left. Democracy is not just about forming governments, but also about removing them.”

The Times (GB) /

Starmer will remain cautious

The Labour leader will try to curb his MPs overambitious expectations in his inaugural speech, The Times predicts:

“Expect Starmer to say something like this. He will not lead a government for left-wing activists or protesters. The amount of money a Labour government has to spend will not be directly proportionate to the size of its majority. The promised change will come – on economic growth, crime and the NHS – but these five years will not be easy. Not so much a new dawn breaking as a brief pause in the rain. ... However underwhelming it may sound to the Labour Party, Starmer will not start making promises he does not believe will be kept.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Expect both continuity and change

There will be a number of changes in foreign policy, British journalist Bill Emmott writes in La Stampa:

“There will be continuity between Labour and the Conservatives in their stance on the war in Ukraine and towards Russia. A stance that, curiously enough, is hardly ever discussed politically. In any case Starmer will be under pressure to criticise Israel more harshly than Sunak did, especially given his experience as a human rights lawyer. This will be a first test of whether the new Labour government is prepared to diverge more than the Tories from American policy. And Labour will clearly deviate from its Conservative predecessors in its softer approach to the EU and illegal immigration.”