Who should be new British Prime Minister and what it means for Ukraine

Friday, 7 June 2024 —

The UK is set to face a snap parliamentary election in less than a month.

Of course, several "black swan" events could still pop up, but if we believe the polls, the opposition Labour Party is poised for a confident victory.

This is the end of a 14-year period of Conservative government, with Labour leader Keir Starmer set to take the helm.

And of course, such a change in power in the UK will not go unnoticed by Kyiv.


Read more about how Labour leader Keir Starmer has paved his way to (likely) becoming the future Prime Minister and what Ukraine can expect from him in the article by Oleh Pavliuk, a European Pravda journalist – Keir Starmer, the future UK Prime Minister. Facts about the Labour leader who might win the election.

Few politicians start their careers at 56, especially with a knighthood. But that's precisely what happened with Keir Starmer. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015 from Labour in their traditional constituency in North London.

Starmer did not support the candidacy of the left-wing Jeremy Corbyn, who eventually became the new Labour head. However, Corbyn appointed the newly minted politician as Home Secretary in the shadow cabinet.

The following years showed that the seemingly inexperienced Starmer had a good grasp of the party members' sentiments.

When the Labour Party leader stepped down after the 2019 election defeat, Starmer seized the opportunity and won the internal party elections confidently.

Starmer's leadership, however, began at a far from opportune time for a politician – April 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic.

He couldn't travel around the country and meet voters, while the policies of the Conservatives led by Boris Johnson (setting aside the "COVID parties") – generous social payments and accelerated vaccine development – were very popular.

As a result, in 2021, Labour suffered a bitter defeat in the Hartlepool constituency, which they had held for the past five decades.

Keir Starmer decided to radically rethink the Labour Party's strategy and abandoned several promises that entailed additional spending. To appeal to businesses, he backed away from plans to increase taxes for the top 5% of the wealthiest Britons.

Of course, under Starmer, Labour does not oppose investments in housing construction, the National Health Service, poverty alleviation and promoting equality.

It's quite ironic that despite all these steps, Starmer recently called himself a "socialist" and "progressive."

Observers have called this a move towards the center. Critics labeled it a "purge" of leftists and extreme leftists who had rallied around Corbyn (their membership in the Labour Party was suspended to prevent them from running as party candidates).

Supporters see it as an attempt to replicate Tony Blair's "third way," which brought the party a historic victory back in 1997.

Regardless, the strategy is working. Labour is currently the undisputed leader in the polls, predicting a landslide victory over the Conservatives.

"While there may be a change of Government at the election, there will be no change in Britain's resolve to support Ukraine, confront Russian aggression and pursue Putin for his war crimes," assured Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey after his visit to Kyiv last month.

However, it's essential to understand that for the British, security and defence issues will not be key at the current general election – though attention to it has increased due to the activities of the "axis of evil" led by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. We should be prepared for the new Starmer government to focus more on internal issues rather than backing Ukraine.

But does this mean, as Rishi Sunak believes, that a Labour victory would "encourage Putin"? Unlikely.

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