Sir Keir Starmer has said “our work is urgent and we begin it today” as he addressed the nation for the first time after officially becoming prime minister.

Entering Downing Street, Sir Keir greeted a crowd of cheering Labour supporters waving Union, Welsh, and Scottish flags before he addressed the nation in front of Number 10.

Much of the country was turned red overnight, with Rishi Sunak conceding defeat just before 5am on Friday and Sir Keir claiming victory shortly after.

Sir Keir started his first address by thanking Mr Sunak for his “achievement as the first British Asian prime minister of our country”, adding that the “extra effort” that will have required “should not be underestimated by anyone”.

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The new prime minister said the country had “voted decisively for change, for national renewal and the return of politics to public service”.

He spoke of people disengaging with politics, adding: “When the gap between the sacrifices made by people and the service they receive from politicians grows this big, it leads to a weariness in the heart of a nation, a draining away of the hope, the spirit, the belief in a better future that we need to move forward together.”

Sir Keir and Lady Victoria entered No 10 to clapping from staff. Pic: PA

To voters who did not vote for the Labour Party, Sir Keir said: “My government will serve you.”

“Politics can be a force for good – we will show that,” he added.

He said: “If I asked you now whether you believed that Britain will be better for your children, I know too many of you will say no – and so my government will fight until you believe again.”

Sir Keir Starmer’s Downing Street speech in full

But he warned changing a country “is not like flicking a switch… this will take a while, but I have no doubt that the work of change begins immediately”.

Sir Keir invited “you all to join this government of service in the mission of national renewal”.

He said his government would be “unburdened by doctrine, guided only by the determination to serve your interest, to defy quietly those who have written our country off”.

“Our work is urgent and we begin it today,” he concluded, to cheers.

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The PM’s meeting with the King

The Labour leader had his meeting with the King in Buckingham Palace after Rishi Sunak stepped down following the worst ever general election result for the Conservatives.

The monarch plays a central role in the changeover of government and, after travelling to the palace with his wife, Lady Victoria Starmer, Sir Keir was given a private audience with Charles shortly after midday.

King Charles welcomes  Keir Starmer during an audience at Buckingham Palace.
Pic: PA
The King welcomed Sir Keir Starmer during an audience at Buckingham Palace. Pic: PA

The King remarked Sir Keir “must be exhausted” and “nearly on your knees”, to which he replied: “Not much sleep.”

When the PM highlighted the “quick change around” since the election results were announced, the King replied: “To say the least. And having to get to grips with everything straight away must be quite exhausting.”

Lady Starmer joined the two men towards the end of the 20-minute meeting – and when it finished, the Starmers headed to their new home in Downing Street.

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Sir Keir has become the first Labour prime minister in 14 years – and the seventh Labour prime minister ever.

Following the meeting, the King’s spokesman said the monarch requested that Sir Keir form a new administration.

“Sir Keir accepted His Majesty’s offer and kissed hands upon his appointment as prime minister and first lord of the Treasury,” he said.

Pic: Reuters
Sir Keir gave his first address to the nation as prime minister. Pic: Reuters

Resigning as Tory leader, Mr Sunak said he would not leave his role immediately but would do so once a leadership race begins.

“I would like to say, first and foremost, I am sorry. I have given this job my all,” he said.

“But you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change. And yours is the only judgement that matters.

“I have heard your anger, your disappointment and I take responsibility for this loss.”

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The outgoing prime minister stood at a lectern outside Number 10 and apologised twice for the failure to win the general election.

Mr Sunak also wished Sir Keir and his family well, adding: “Whatever our disagreements in this campaign, he is a decent, public-spirited man who I respect.

“He and his family deserve the very best of our understanding as they make the huge transition to their new lives behind this door and as he grapples with this most demanding of jobs in an increasingly unstable world.”