Starmer says Labour must show 'big reforms' after local elections wins

Keir Starmer urges shadow cabinet to up their game and show Labour can bring ‘big reforms’ after local elections – as SNP boasts that it would use a hung Parliament to ‘undo Brexit’ and reintroduce free movement rules

  • Labour made big local elections gains but still not set for a Commons majority

Keir Starmer will warn his shadow cabinet the ‘hardest part lies ahead’ today after local election results showed he has not yet sealed the deal with voters.

Labour scored significant wins in the town hall polls last week, but analysis suggests the party still faces falling short of an overall majority at Westminster.

After the long coronation weekend, Sir Keir will gather his top team later urging them to demonstrate they can be a ‘big reforming government’.

But the SNP has already been boasting that it will hold the balance of power if the next general election brings a hung Parliament, vowing to ‘undo Brexit’ and force a Scottish independence referendum.

The Lib Dems have also been indicating that they will push for proportional representation if Sir Keir needs to rely on other parties to prop him up in No10. 

Keir Starmer will warn his shadow cabinet the ‘hardest part lies ahead’ today after local election results showed he has not yet sealed the deal with voters

The SNP (Humza Yousaf pictured left) and Lib Dems (Ed Davey pictured right) could hold the balance of power in a hung Parliament

Closely-watched projections have found that Labour would have 298 MPs if Thursday’s results were replicated at a general election

Labour gained 635 councillors across England in last week’s polls as the Conservatives lost 960 seats under Rishi Sunak’s leadership – worse than most Tories had feared.

The Opposition was encouraged by winning control of councils in the Brexit-backing areas of Dover, Blackpool, Medway, Erewash, and Stoke.

But the national vote share gave Sir Keir’s supporters pause for thought and Mr Sunak some grounds for hope.

The Tories were on 29 per cent, the worst in a significant ballot event since 2013. 

Labour was up five points on 2019 on 36 per cent – but that was only a marginal improvement on a year ago. 

Closely-watched projections by academics Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher found that Labour would have 298 MPs if Thursday’s results were replicated at a general election.

That would be up 95 on the standings from 2019 – but still around 30 short of an outright majority. 

Meanwhile, the Tories are on track to plunge 127 seats to just 238.

The estimates were based on the 4.2million ballots cast for councillors, and come with the caveat that behaviour is often different in Westminster polls.

Addressing his shadow cabinet today, Sir Keir is expected to say: ‘The fact that Labour won in all parts of the country was a sign of the strides we have made. People who turned away from us during the Corbyn years and the Brexit years are coming back.

‘But there is understandably a lot of scepticism about politics out there and now we need to go from reassurance to hope. We need to show that we will be a big reforming government bringing hope of a better life for working people.’

Sir Keir will tell his team to focus on the NHS rather than ‘woke’ issues, after getting into trouble over questions such as whether women can have penises.

Labour is considering putting higher taxes on foreign buyers of UK homes as the party seeks to pressure the Government on the housing crisis.

The 2 per cent surcharge on stamp duty for overseas buyers could be increased, as well as banning them from purchasing more than 50 per cent of homes in a development.

SNP Europe spokesman Alyn Smith said: ‘Brexit has been a disaster for Scotland and the UK – costing our economy billions, damaging the NHS, and contributing to the cost of living crisis – and there’s been a conspiracy of silence on it from Labour and the Tories. 

‘While independence is the only way for Scotland to regain our EU membership, the SNP could hold the balance of power at the next election and we would use our influence to undo Brexit as far as possible and demand the UK has a close relationship with the EU.’ 

The MP added: ‘With all the signs pointing to a hung parliament, the SNP could force a minority Labour government to rejoin the EU single market, reintroduce free movement and transfer power for an independence referendum to Edinburgh, so Scotland can regain our place in Europe.’

Rishi Sunak (pictured taking part in the Big Help Out campaign yesterday) is facing Tory disquiet after dismal local elections last week 

Sir Keir will also speak to the 22 new Labour council leaders today, with the local Labour politicians set to pledge to deliver emergency cost of living action plans within 100 days of taking control.

The Labour leader said he was proud of last week’s success, adding that he was ‘delighted to be immediately working with our new council leaders to create emergency cost of living action plans, and review local housing plans’.

‘We’ll act now, to ease people’s pockets, and support their aspirations.

‘Our new leaders will review their inheritance and pull every lever possible to relieve the intolerable burden that this government has placed on working people.’

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