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Starmer emphasises ‘service’ in first Commons speech as Prime Minister

Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to colleagues past and present as he made his first appearance in the House of Commons since becoming Prime Minister (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)
Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to colleagues past and present as he made his first appearance in the House of Commons since becoming Prime Minister (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to colleagues past and present as he made his first appearance in the House of Commons since becoming Prime Minister.

His arrival in the Commons chamber on Tuesday was greeted by a standing ovation from the Labour benches, and he shared a brief word with his predecessor, Rishi Sunak, before the pair took their seats.

Sir Keir gave the first speech responding to the unanimous re-election of Sir Lindsay Hoyle as Commons Speaker, beginning with a tribute to former Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay.

Now Lord Mackinlay, the former MP had both his hands and feet amputated after contracting sepsis and decided not to fight his seat at last week’s election due to his ongoing recovery.

MP Craig Mackinlay returns to Westminster
Sir Keir Starmer began his speech with a tribute to former Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, now elevated to the House of Lords (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The Prime Minister said: “All of those returning will remember, as I do, the speech he gave just a few weeks ago which was inspiring and moving and we wish him well.”

He went on to welcome the 335 new MPs and thank Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh, who, as the MP with the longest continuous service, is Father of the House and oversaw Sir Lindsay’s re-election.

After celebrating the diversity of the new House of Commons, which Sir Keir said has the largest cohort of LGBT+ MPs of any parliament in the world, he paid special tribute to Diane Abbott – the longest-serving female MP.

The election saw Sir Keir mired in a row over Ms Abbott’s selection as a Labour candidate, but on Tuesday the new Prime Minister welcomed her back to the Commons.

He said Ms Abbott has “done so much in her career over so many years to fight for a Parliament that truly represents modern Britain”.

Concluding his speech, he reiterated the commitment he made during the campaign 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’s now time to turn the page, unite in a common endeavour of national renewal and make this Parliament a parliament of service.”