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Starmer to reset 'crucial relationships' by giving regional governments more power

British Prime Minister Keir Starmer delivers a speech, following his first cabinet meeting as Prime Minister, in London, Saturday, July 6, 2024.
British Prime Minister Keir Starmer delivers a speech, following his first cabinet meeting as Prime Minister, in London, Saturday, July 6, 2024. Copyright Claudia Greco/AP
Copyright Claudia Greco/AP
By Angela Skujins with AP
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Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner met with regional mayors on Tuesday at the official resident to discuss shifting power out of Westminster to strengthen the regions, among other issues.

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The freshly appointed UK cabinet ministers met with Prime Minister Keir Starmer on Tuesday to discuss the political priorities during their five-year mandate.

Although details of the meeting remain hidden, Starmer has announced that the government has a significant amount of work ahead of them.

On Saturday, Starmer appointed his cabinet of Labour Party lawmakers, which is expected to tackle issues such as boosting a sluggish economy, building more homes and fixing the state-funded health service NHS.

Starmer has already axed former Conservative PM Rishi Sunak's highly controversial Rwanda Plan and vowed to deliver on voters' mandate for change, though he warned it will not happen quickly.

Who's who of ministers

Labour has spent 14 years in opposition, so few ministers have held government office before.

Senior ministers — of whom almost half (11) are women — include newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner, who left school at age 16 without any qualifications and eventually rose within the British trade union ranks before being elected into parliament in 2015.

Rachel Reeves is the new Chancellor of the Exchequer — but before she occupied the senior financial leadership position, she joined the Labour Party at 16 in 2005 and subsequently held numerous senior shadow ministry portfolios.

David Lammy — who was the youngest MP to be elected into parliament at age 27 in 2000 — will occupy the Foreign Secretary portfolio, while Labour Party veteran and former journalist Yvette Cooper will handle the senior Home Security ministry.

John Healey takes on the defence portfolio and has previously advocated for additional support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, and Wes Streeting, a cancer survivor who has stated the beleaguered NHS will need to be overhauled by Labour, has been put in charge of health.

Nearly all ministers went to public schools, another record that is a sharp break from Conservative ministers who have historically had private school pedigrees.

“I’m proud of the fact that we have people around the cabinet table who didn’t have the easiest of starts in life,” Starmer said on Friday.

'Resetting crucial relationships'

A dozen Metropolitan area mayors also met at the official residence on Tuesday to discuss establishing a council for regions and nations.

Dubbed Local Growth Plans, the aim is for local councils to identify areas of strength and leverage them, which would lead to hopeful economic gains.

According to a government press release, Starmer said he would be "resetting these crucial relationships" by giving more autonomy to local council leaders, which would start with the government developing devolution legislation.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan celebrated the roundtable meeting by stating on X that "working hand-in-hand with the new government" would allow for different municipalities to achieve their goals.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham also took to the social media platform to express that the Council of the Regions and Nations would give North England — a historically working-class area — "more say than ever before".

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Nik Johnson echoed this sentiment, writing on X that identifying areas of growth and much-needed infrastructure would allow for the "respective regions to thrive."

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