Keir Starmer – 2024 First Speech as Prime Minister in the House of Commons

The speech made by Keir Starmer, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 9 July 2024.

Mr Speaker-Elect, on behalf of the whole House, may I be the first to congratulate you on your re-election? Those of us who were here in the previous Parliament will always remember the wonderful support you provided to the former Conservative Member, Craig Mackinlay, and his inspiring battle to overcome his injuries from sepsis. All of those returning will remember, as I do, the speech he gave just a few weeks ago, which was inspiring and moving. We wish him well; I had the privilege on that occasion to meet his family and young daughter.

That support, Mr Speaker-Elect, was characteristic of your profound care for the interests and welfare of all Members, especially Back Benchers. I am grateful that new Members will be able to look to you as they begin the great privilege of serving their constituents in this House. May I, too, welcome each and every one of the new Members who is here for the first time, starting their great responsibility?

I also thank the right hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) for presiding over this election, and congratulate him on becoming the new Father of the House. More than 40 years of continuous service is a stunning achievement. Back in the 1970s, Sir Edward wrote a book described as

“a personal collection of quotations dating from 3000 BC to the present day which might be said to cast some light on the workings of the Tory mind”.

After the last six weeks, it might be time for a new edition.

Mr Speaker-Elect, you preside over a new Parliament that is the most diverse by race and gender that this country has ever seen, and I am proud of the part that my party, and every party, has played in that; and this intake includes the largest cohort of LGBT+ MPs of any Parliament in the world. Given all that diversity, Mr Speaker-Elect, I hope that you will not begrudge me a slight departure from convention to pay tribute to the new Mother of the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), who has done so much in her career, over so many years, to fight for a Parliament that truly represents modern Britain. We welcome her back to her place.

As in any new Parliament, we now have the opportunity and responsibility to put an end to a politics that has too often seemed self-serving and self-obsessed, and to replace the politics of performance with the politics of service, because service is a precondition for hope and trust, and the need to restore trust should weigh heavily on every Member here, new and returning alike. We all have a duty to show that politics can be a force for good, so whatever our political differences, it is time to turn the page, unite in a common endeavour of national renewal, and make this new Parliament a Parliament of service.