Sir Keir Starmer tells first Cabinet 'huge amount of work to do'

Sir Keir Starmer told ministers there was a “huge amount of work to do” as he chaired the first meeting of his new Cabinet on his first full day in Downing Street.

The Prime Minister told his top team it had been “the honour and the privilege of my life” to be invited by the King to form the Government after sweeping to a historic victory at the polls.

Sir Keir and ministers looked in high spirits as he gave brief opening remarks at the start of the gathering.

Flanked by his deputy Angela Rayner and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, he said: “Look, colleagues, it is absolutely fantastic to welcome you to the Cabinet, our first meeting.

“And it was the honour and privilege of my life to be invited by the King, His Majesty the King, yesterday to form a Government and to form the Labour Government of 2024.

“And now we hold our first Cabinet meeting. So I welcome you to it.

“We have a huge amount of work to do, so now we get on with our work.”

Keir Starmer (C) is applauded as he chairs the first meeting of his cabinet at Downing Street. -Credit:CHRIS EADES/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The remarks were met with loud applause by Cabinet ministers who Sir Keir appointed on Friday and largely mirror his shadow team before the election.

The Prime Minister confirmed Rachel Reeves as the UK’s first female chancellor, Angela Rayner as his deputy and Housing Secretary and Pat McFadden as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

David Lammy was named Foreign Secretary, Yvette Cooper Home Secretary, John Healey Defence Secretary, Wes Streeting Health Secretary and Bridget Phillipson Education Secretary.

Shabana Mahmood and Ed Miliband will retain their briefs of justice and energy respectively, but former attorney general Emily Thornberry was replaced by barrister Richard Hermer KC.

As ministers filed in to Number 10 on Saturday morning, a jubilant Mr Miliband, who served in Gordon Brown’s cabinet and was later the Labour leader, told reporters: “It’s good to be back.”

The Environment Secretary told colleagues “it will take years” to tackle the sewage and nature crises.

In opening remarks at Saturday’s meeting, he said: “There is no sugarcoating it: we face a crisis point. Record levels of sewage in our rivers, lakes and seas. Nature is dying. Confidence amongst farmers at the lowest on record.

“It will take years to reverse this damage, but the work of change begins now.”

The Cabinet met in Downing Street with Sir Keir set to face questions from journalists later on Saturday in his first press conference as Prime Minister.

Other ministerial appointments are expected to be announced over the weekend, with Mr McFadden saying Sir Keir will move quickly to allocate responsibilities ahead of the Nato summit.

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

He is also due to host the European Political Community summit in the UK on July 18.

Labour won 412 seats and the Tories 121, marking the worst result in Conservative history.

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.