Politics latest: Sunak wishes PM luck with 'formidable task' as new parliament sits for first time (2024)

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Abbott: Today we have 264 female MPs

Addressing the Commons, new Mother of the House Diane Abbott notes how the number of female MPs has ballooned since she first took a seat in the House.

She says: "When I was a new member in 1987, there were only 40 female members of parliament - today we have 264.

"And some of us are glad that we have lived to see this.

"I can't speak about the increased numbers of female members of parliament without referencing my predecessor Baroness Harriet Harman, who did so much to work to have an equal and diverse House.

"We are going into very tumultuous times, and historically this House has played a role in these events both nationally and internationally - and I'm sure it will be the same going forward."


Sunak congratulates PM ahead of his 'formidable task' in leading country

Rishi Sunak, for the first time as leader of the opposition, is on his feet in the Commons and welcomes back the Commons Speaker.

He congratulates Sir Keir Starmer on his election victory and wishes him well with the "formidable task" ahead.

"He and his family deserve the good wishes of all of us," he says.

"Whatever disputes we may have in this parliament, I know everyone in this House will not lose sight of the fact we are all motivated by our desire to serve our constituents, our country, and advance the principles that we honourably believe in."

Tories will serve 'professionally' in opposition

The Tory leader also offers his welcome and congratulations to parliament's new MPs, and says he is looking forward to continuing to represent his Richmond constituency.

He also again offers his apology to Conservative colleagues who lost their seat last week.

"It is important that after 14 years in government, the Conservative Party rebuilds," he says.

Mr Sunak vows the party will serve in opposition "professionally, effectively, and humbly".


Starmer addresses Commons for first time as PM

Sir Keir Starmer is now on his feet in the House of Commons for the very first time as prime minister.

He begins by congratulating Sir Lindsay Hoyle as his re-election as Commons Speaker, as we have just witnessed.

Sir Keir then welcomes all the new members in the House, and pays tribute to Sir Edward Leigh - the new Father of the House.

He also hails the election of the largest number of LGBT+ MPs of any parliament in the world.

Politics 'a force for good', says PM

"And given all that diversity... I hope you will not begrudge me with a slight departure from convention to also pay tribute to the new Mother of the House, Diane Abbott," Sir Keir says.

"Who has done so much in her career over so many years to fight for a parliament that truly represents modern Britain.

"We welcome her back to her place."

Sir Keir goes on to say that the House now has an opportunity - and a responsibility - to show that politics can be "a force for good".

He says the "politics of performance" must be replaced with a "politics of service".


Darren McCaffrey analysis: 'It is not orderly for MPs to clap'

A House of Commons official reminded the rather excited new Labour members who have taken their seats in a rammed chamber for the opening of Parliament not to clap, writes our political correspondent Darren McCaffrey.

The excited government benches had very jubilantly been clapping most of the senior government minister as they arrived in the chamber, with the loudest reserved for Angela Rayner and then Keir Starmer.

I suspect for today, the clapping won’t stop and the Commons officials will let the unorderly behaviour continue.

And wow, what a different Parliament it is. The Labour benches are heaving. There is simply no room. Many Labour members are crammed on their benches, others are forced to stand. More still are in the gallery overlooking the chamber.

The Conservatives, in contrast, look rather glum and at one stage were being told to bunch together to make it appear a little busier.

And extraordinary, too, to see Nigel Farage enter the chamber. A broad smile on his face. He’s wanted to become an MP for decades. His dream has finally come through.

Parliament today is very much like the first day of school. For most, it’s an exciting start, others might well be dreading the months ahead.


Hoyle re-elected as Commons Speaker

As expected, Sir Lindsay Hoyle has been re-elected as Commons Speaker.

As is parliamentary tradition, he's been dragged to the umpire's chair after being returned to the job unopposed by MPs.

His re-election came after he gave a speech to the assembled MPs, who have taken their seats in the chamber for the first time since the election.

We'll now get speeches from the prime minister and leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak.


Hoyle pays tribute to new Father and Mother of House

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the former Speaker of the House of Commons, has confirmed that he is willing to be re-elected into the role.

He begins by paying tribute to the new Father and Mother of the House - Sir Edward Leigh and Diane Abbott.

These are the longest-sitting male and female MPs.

Addressing the pair, he says: "You have served this place and your constituents for 41 years - Diane, you have served for 37 years and broken many glass ceilings along the way."

Sir Lindsay thanks their predecessors - Peter Bottomley and Harriet Harman.

"Sir Edward, I know you are a man who respects traditions," Sir Lindsay continues.

"Indeed, when you ran for Speaker in 2019 you were keen to bring back the use of the wig for the Speaker.

He jokes: "Hopefully though, you look kindly on me and agree I still have a decent head of hair."

Sir Lindsay then reminiscences on an "unusual" term as Speaker.

He remembers the Lying in State of the late Queen Elizabeth II, the coronation of the King, and the welcoming to the House of Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy.


New parliament sitting for first time

It's standing room only as MPs pack into the Commons chamber for the first time since the general election.

Labour and the Tories have of course switched sides - and we can just about make out Rishi Sunak in Sir Keir Starmer's old seat on the opposition front bench.

As our deputy political editor Sam Coates explains, this will feel like a "huge moment" for those in the chamber - half of whom are new MPs.

"We've just had the ringing of the division bells which indicate the start of this sitting, then a veteran Conservative MP - he's called Sir Edward Leigh - he's been in the Commons longer than any MP - will take his seat."

He will take the clerk's chair at the table in the Commons just before Black Rod arrives from the House of Lords at around 2.40pm.


Farage: 'It's like the first day of school'

Nigel Farage, the leader of Reform UK, is in the House of Commons today, where he has been catching up with our political correspondent Tamara Cohen.

He was one of five Reform UK MPs were elected last week.

Mr Farage says as Labour's majority is "massive", challenging the government on legislation "is going to be almost fruitless".

However, "providing a voice of opposition and questioning what a government with the huge majority is doing, we can do".

Mr Farage adds: "The Conservatives are officially the opposition, but they're so divided - there may be five of us, but we're very united."

But will Reform UK vote with the Conservatives on migration?

"Do you mean the party of mass migration?

"Do you mean the party, the party that have increased the population by six million since they came to power?

"I don't understand the question."

And asked what it's been like being in parliament with his five MPs, Mr Farage says: "It's like the first day at school. I'm loving it."


'Positive' meeting between Streeting and junior doctors - but more strikes not ruled out

We've just been hearing from Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, who chair the BMA union's junior doctors' committee.

They have just emerged from a meeting with the new health secretary, Wes Streeting, about resolving the strikes that have been ongoing for over 18 months.

Dr Trivedi said the meeting was "positive", adding it taking place so soon after the election showed "the urgency" the government had placed on resolving the dispute.

Asked if they are confident they can resolve the dispute without further strike action, however, they refused to rule it out - only noting there was another meeting planned for next week.

A key demand of junior doctors is pay is restored to 2008 levels, which would amount to a 35% rise, and Dr Laurenson said there was a "clear conversation about a timeframe and a journey" for reaching that.

Our political correspondent Tamara Cohen notes the pressure is on the new health secretary to reach an agreement quickly.

She says: "The momentum needs to keep going because their current mandate for industrial action ends in September, they're expected to have another ballot in August, so the health secretary will be under pressure to come up with a settlement before then."


'Like the first day at school': How parliament has prepared 300 rookie MPs for the job

The UK's newest MPs might have spent the last six weeks fighting for a place in parliament - but it can still be a shock to the system once they enter it, according to those familiar with the process.

That's why House of Commons staff have spent months preparing for their arrival, working on everything from buddy schemes to starter packs and photobooks to help them get to grips with the job.

This secret team of helpers is not messing about. In fact, the first contact parliament has with newly elected representatives is at the election count itself.

Read all about how new MPs are prepared for the job here:

Politics latest: Sunak wishes PM luck with 'formidable task' as new parliament sits for first time (2024)
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