Starmer says ‘tough decisions’ to be taken when quizzed about tax

The Prime Minister pledged to approach challenges with a 'raw honesty'.

Keir Starmer says ‘tough decisions’ to be taken when quizzed about tax Getty Images

Prime Minister Keir Starmer has said he will have to take “tough decisions” when asked about tax hikes.

Facing his first media grilling after taking the keys to Number 10 on Friday, he said the Tories’ Rwanda deportation plan was “dead and buried”.

The landslide victory in the General Election has given Labour “a clear mandate to govern for all four corners of the United Kingdom,” Starmer said as he set out plans to tour all four UK nations.

The new UK Government faces difficult choices over the public finances with official forecasts implying major spending cuts over the coming years.

During the election campaign, the Labour leader insisted he had no plans for major tax increases.

The SNP and the Tories accused him of not being honest on tax and public spending during the election campaign.

Asked on Saturday whether he would be willing to raise levies to fund public services, the Prime Minister told journalists: “In relation to the tough decisions, we’re going to have to take them and take them early. And we will do that with a raw honesty.

“But that is not a sort of prelude to saying there’s some tax decision that we didn’t speak about before that we’re going to announce now.

“It’s about the tough decisions to fix the problem and being honest about what they are.”

After sweeping to a historic victory at the polls, Starmer said his party had received “a mandate to do politics differently”.

“This will be a politics and a Government that is about delivery, is about service,” he said. “Self-interest is yesterday’s politics.”

He added: “We clearly on Thursday got a mandate from all four nations. For the first time in 20-plus years, we have a majority in England, in Scotland and in Wales.

“And that is a clear mandate to govern for all four corners of the United Kingdom.”

Labour won 412 seats and the Tories 121, marking the worst result in Conservative history. It also left the SNP with just nine seats north of the border – down from 48 at the last election.

Labour returned 37 seats in Scotland.Getty Images

Answering questions from reporters, Starmer said: “I am restless for change and I think and hope that what you’ve already seen demonstrates that.”

“We have been planning for months to hit the ground running,” he said, adding: “But look, it is not an overnight exercise changing the country.”

The news conference on Saturday came after he chaired the first meeting of his new Cabinet, which largely mirrors his shadow team before the election.

He said he had told his ministers “exactly what I expect of them in terms of standards, delivery, and the trust that the country has put in them”.

The PM will make his debut on the international stage as Britain’s premier when he flies to Washington DC for the Nato gathering next week, which is expected to include discussions on support for Ukraine.

He told the news conference: “It is for me to be absolutely clear that the first duty of my Government is security and defence, to make clear our unshakable support of Nato.

“And of course to reiterate, as I did to President Zelensky yesterday, the support that we will have in this country and with our allies towards Ukraine.”

The Prime Minister, who continues to receive calls from world leaders, will also host the European Political Community summit in the UK on July 18.

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