Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
alert-–-the-red-parliament-convenes:-commons-returns-after-keir-starmer’s-huge-win-–-with-411-labour-mps-crammed-on-to-government-benches-while-121-tories-sit-alongside-72-lib-dems…-and-nigel-farage’s-five-reform-‘foxes-in-the-hen-house’Alert – The Red Parliament convenes: Commons returns after Keir Starmer’s huge win – with 411 Labour MPs crammed on to government benches while 121 Tories sit alongside 72 Lib Dems… and Nigel Farage’s five Reform ‘foxes in the hen house’

A triumphant Keir Starmer paraded his troops in the Commons today as the ‘Red’ Parliament returned.

The dramatic change in fortunes has been laid bare in the chamber, with 411 Labour MPs squeezing on to the government benches while the paltry 121 Tories sit alongside the 72 Lib Dems.

Sir Keir was clapped and cheered by his party as he came into the Commons. He paused to have a brief exchange with defeated rival Rishi Sunak, although they did not seem to shake hands.

The first job for the new cohort of 643 MPs – minus seven Sinn Fein who do not take their seats – was to elect a Speaker.

Incumbent Sir Lindsay Hoyle was returned unopposed, and was dragged to the chair as is traditional by Conservative David Davis and Labour’s Cat Smith.

In his maiden speech as premier at the despatch box, Sir Keir said he wanted to ‘turn the page’ and embark on ‘national renewal’. 

Mr Sunak responded by congratulating his opponent, saying there was ‘respect’ despite the bad-tempered clashes. 

Nigel Farage has also announced his arrival at Westminster with his four Reform colleagues, describing themselves as ‘foxes in the hen house’. Mr Farage was spotted on the back row, having apparently been separated from Lee Anderson and Richard Tice who were standing.  

MPs will now be formally sworn in over the coming days ahead of Parliament’s State Opening on Wednesday July 17.

They will promise to ‘be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles, his heirs and successors, according to law’.

Sinn Fein, which won seven seats across Northern Ireland, including two in Belfast, have a long-standing policy of abstentionism so do not take their seats in Westminster.

Before they elect a Speaker, Black Rod Sarah Clarke summoned MPs to the House of Lords.

She crossed through Central Lobby to fetch Father of the House Sir Edward Leigh, and walk him to the Lords, where a Royal Commission will be read directing MPs to choose their speaker.

Sir Edward is the longest continuously serving MP, having had a seat in the Commons since 1983 – the year when Margaret Thatcher won a 144-seat majority and when Jeremy Corbyn, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown first became MPs.

He must preside over the selection.

Sir Lindsay is expected to put himself forward as Speaker, having served in the role since 2019 and contested the Chorley, Lancashire, without a party affiliation.

It is up to MPs to decide whether he will stay on in the role.

If Sir Lindsay is allowed to remain in post, MPs will drag him to the Speaker’s Chair to serve in the once-perilous role, seven speakers were executed by beheading between 1394 and 1535, according to Parliament records.

Sir Lindsay is expected to thank his colleagues, and senior politicians may also speak to congratulate him, including Sir Keir.

Swearing in begins the same afternoon, led by the Speaker, Father of the House Sir Edward, then members of the Sir Keir’s Cabinet and Leader of the Opposition Rishi Sunak’s shadow cabinet.

Lawmaking and debates in the House of Commons remain on hold until after the formal State Opening of Parliament, where the King will lay out the government’s legislative agenda from the Sovereign’s Throne in the House of Lords.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said Sir Keir discussed ‘other parts of the country where there could be mayors’ during a meeting with regional leaders at Downing Street.

Mr Khan said after the meeting: ‘What I want other parts of the country who have not got a mayor to know is that having a mayor can be a real game changer.’

The Mayor of London added: ‘We heard this morning, the Prime Minister talking about other parts of the country where there could be mayors.

‘That brings with it not just additional powers, but also additional resources as well.’

returns on Tuesday with Labour ministers on the Government frontbench for the first time in more than a decade.

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