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Resetting Relations and Redefining Politics: PM Starmer’s Visionary First Week Tour Across UK Nations

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Starmer pledges a new political approach during his visits across UK regions

In the initial days of his leadership, the Prime Minister traveled to Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

Political journalist @alixculbertson

Monday, July 8, 2024, 4:

Sir Keir Starmer has announced that his administration will adopt a "new approach to politics" while visiting each of the UK's countries during his initial week as prime minister.

The United Kingdom's newly appointed leader expressed that it is crucial for him to rejuvenate relationships with Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

He began his tour of the capitals of the devolved nations on Sunday, starting in Edinburgh, before moving on to Belfast and Cardiff the following day.

Live updates: Starmer justifies exclusion of cabinet members

On Monday morning, Sir Keir held discussions with Northern Ireland's First Minister Michelle O'Neill and Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly, followed by sessions with representatives from the five principal Stormont parties.

Following two years of deadlock concerning the post-Brexit trade rules, Stormont's coalition government was restored in February. However, the trade agreement continues to be a contentious issue for the DUP.

Sinn Fein, a nationalist party, emerged as the leading party in Northern Ireland in the Westminster elections on Thursday, securing seven seats. However, their elected MPs will continue the practice of abstaining from sitting in the House of Commons.

Sir Keir conveyed to journalists in Stormont that his trip to Belfast is "a definitive expression of his commitment to the significance of Northern Ireland."

He mentioned that it involves "starting anew in interactions and progressing together in a cooperative and respectful manner."

"He mentioned that the talks this morning were productive and encouraging."

"I have explicitly stated that my administration is committed to bringing about transformation and ensuring stability in Northern Ireland, along with adopting a new approach to politics."

Further reading: Insight: First Prime Minister in over a decade with a mandate from the northChancellor sets compulsory targets for house construction

An improved agreement for Brexit

Sir Keir has stated that his administration could negotiate a more favorable post-Brexit trade agreement, but only if the UK shows a readiness to work within the current Northern Ireland protocol.

Currently, there are mandatory inspections and increased bureaucratic procedures for transporting items from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

When questioned about his objective to achieve a uniform trade agreement for the whole UK with the EU, Sir Keir stated: "We believe we can negotiate a superior deal compared to the flawed agreement that Boris Johnson delivered, and we are committed to addressing the necessary tasks and challenges involved."

Sir Keir stated that his administration is dedicated to enhancing the ties between the UK and Ireland.

He pledged to fulfill his campaign promise to overturn the previous Conservative government's laws that provide partial immunity to those accused of crimes during the Troubles.

He stated, "I view the mandate from the general election as a call for a new approach to politics, one emphasizing stability, which is greatly needed."

"I believe that a major issue over the past 14 years, especially in the most recent six to eight years, has been instability and frequent changes."

"Today marks the end of that."

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When questioned about a referendum on Irish unification, he confirmed his dedication to the Good Friday Agreement.

The accord specifies that the Secretary of Northern Ireland has the authority to initiate a referendum on the border if it appears that a majority of the population favors altering the constitutional status, making it improbable that such a referendum will occur in the near future.

Labour heralded as transformative for Wales

On Monday afternoon, Sir Keir traveled to Wales where he convened with Vaughan Gething, the Labour First Minister, at the Senedd in Cardiff.

The prime minister vowed to prioritize the needs of the Welsh population following Labour's complete electoral victory over the Conservatives in Wales, marking the first such occurrence since 2001.

He stated that his Labour administration would transform the landscape in Wales by collaborating with the Welsh government to achieve results for the region, as opposed to the frequent disputes witnessed over the past 14 years.

"He reiterated his campaign promise to visit in person on the third day and engage in talks with the first minister regarding long-term goals and current pressing matters."

Sir Keir mentioned that this includes Tata Steel in Port Talbot, where approximately 2,800 positions are currently at immediate risk.

His administration, along with the Welsh government, is urging Tata to avoid any forced layoffs, offering additional financial support to the UK’s steel sector.

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