Labour government will rise to the challenge of populism, says Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer said he hopes Thursday’s General Election will see Britain start to rise to the challenge of populism, adding the contest offered a “huge chance to take our country forward”.

Speaking to the PA news agency in his last national interview of the campaign, the Labour leader stressed his desire to address the “shared challenge” presented by populism “across Europe and across the world”.

In recent days, following electoral successes for the populist National Rally party in France and polls suggesting Donald Trump could return to the White House, Sir Keir has spoken of the need to offer a “progressive” alternative to populism.

Sir Keir Starmer wearing a blue shirt and navy suit
Sir Keir Starmer said a Labour election win could show a progressive answer to the rise of populism (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Asked whether he felt pressure to prove that Labour’s programme could provide an alternative, he said: “Yes, I do think it’s really important that we make that case.”

On a campaign visit to East Kilbride, he said: “There are many challenges, probably more challenges now than there were over recent years, both here in the UK, here in Scotland and across the world, and we have to rise to those challenges and it has to be a progressive answer to those challenges.

“Now obviously that starts tomorrow, I hope, in the UK, and here in Scotland as well, but it is then a shared challenge across Europe and across the world to meet the challenges of today with the answers of progressives.”

Asked how he felt about the prospect of entering Downing Street on Friday, he added: “While I recognise the responsibility, if we are elected to form a government tomorrow, I’ll see it all as an opportunity.

“An opportunity to deliver 40,000 more NHS appointments a week, 6,500 more teachers, to grow our economy and get more money into people’s pockets.

“So yes, it’s huge, but it’s a huge chance to take our country forward.”

He made his comments following a campaign rally where he delivered his final message of encouragement to Scottish activists ahead of polling day.

Reflecting on the campaign on its last day, he told PA he had been “surprised by the negativity of the Tory campaign” with its focus on warning about a Labour “supermajority”.

He said: “They have literally nothing positive to say to the country and retreated into negativity.

“I’m pleased that we have started positively and maintained that through the campaign and end positively, because we’ve got a strong case for change, and the message has been consistent from us because this is a change election.”