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Sir Keir Starmer will bring together Labour’s newly expanded team of mayors on Monday to develop a “gold standard” for growing regional economies.

It comes after a string of victories in the local elections, with Labour seizing the West Midlands mayoralty after a knife-edge battle and Sadiq Khan seeing off Tory challenger Susan Hall to win a historic third term in London.

At a meeting in the West Midlands, Sir Keir will tell the mayors that boosting regional growth will be “top of the agenda” in Labour’s devolution plans if it wins the next general election, and that he wants local leaders to be a “core part” of growing their economies.

However, with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves committing to tough “fiscal rules”, it is not clear if there will be any extra funding for local areas.

Speaking ahead of the first meeting, the Labour leader said: “These local elections showed that the British public is ready to put their trust in this changed Labour Party.

“We will repay that trust by delivering economic growth for everyone, everywhere in partnership with our Labour mayors.

“Our growing team of Labour mayors is already setting the agenda and delivering for local people despite a failing Tory government that is choking off our economy and hoarding power in Westminster.”

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Labour takes Tory ‘crown jewel’ in local elections

Sir Keir has previously pledged to oversee a “fundamental shift” in politics through devolution and its “Take Back Control Act”, which he said would give new powers to regional mayors over transport, skills, energy, and planning – something he branded “full-fat devolution”.

Sky News has previously reported on how Sue Gray, the civil service partygate investigator turned chief of staff, has been key in improving the relationship between the Leader of the Opposition’s Office (LOTO) and the metro mayors, which has sometimes been seen as strained due to disagreements over policy, including the war in Gaza.

In a display of strengthened ties, Sir Keir will tomorrow point to work already being done by Labour’s mayors – such as Andy Burnham’s bus rollout in Greater Manchester – and say this can help set a “gold standard” for future Local Growth Plans.

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But the Conservatives said Labour’s mayors “have spent more time wading in on international issues they have no control over rather than delivering on people’s priorities”.

Tory party chairman Richard Holden added: “We are boosting regional growth and creating thriving communities, investing over £15bn in projects across the UK and backing 75 towns through our Long-Term Plan for Towns. Labour would take us back to square one.”

Read More:
How Sue Gray’s friends and foes could shape Starmer’s No 10
Rishi Sunak denies favouring the south with levelling up funding

What seats did Labour win?

Labour’s wins included Richard Parker’s shock victory over Conservative Andy Street in the West Midlands, Claire Ward becoming the East Midlands’s first elected mayor, Kim McGuinness winning the new North East mayoral election, and David Skaith winning the new York & North Yorkshire mayoralty – which includes Mr Sunak’s Richmond constituency.

As well as London, the party retained mayoralties including Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and the Liverpool City Region.

The Tories held on to the Tees Valley mayoralty but otherwise suffered a mauling from the electorate, also losing nearly 500 council seats and the Blackpool South by-election.

Labour said the Tories had “failed to level up” the country, pointing to its analysis of Office for National Statistics data showing the average gap in gross domestic product per person between London and other combined authorities in England averaged £29,000 in 2022.

Levelling up was at the heart of former prime minister Boris Johnson’s 2019 Conservative manifesto.

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Speaking last month, Sir Keir told Sky News it was the “right policy” but lambasted Mr Johnson’s “failure” to deliver it, while accusing his successor Mr Sunak of “strangling it at birth”.

However, despite criticising the Conservatives for not putting money behind the policy, Sir Keir refused to commit any new funding to local councils, which are straddling an estimated funding gap of £4bn over the next two years.

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UK election on July 4: What would Labour Party win mean for crypto?

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UK election on July 4: What would Labour Party win mean for crypto?

While nothing is assured in politics, the Labour Party has a commanding lead in the polls just six weeks away from the general election.

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How the Peraire-Bueno brothers allegedly drained $25M from their MEV bots exploit

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How the Peraire-Bueno brothers allegedly drained M from their MEV bots exploit

The Peraire-Bueno brothers have been charged with fraud in a first-ever MEV bot exploit case. Here is what the DOJ claims they did to pull it off.

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General election called for 4 July, as Rishi Sunak says ‘now is the moment for Britain to choose its future’

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 General election called for 4 July, as Rishi Sunak says 'now is the moment for Britain to choose its future'

Rishi Sunak has called a general election for 4 July, saying “now is the moment for Britain to choose its future”.

In a statement outside Downing Street delivered in the pouring rain, the prime minister said he had met with the King to request the dissolution of parliament.

Follow the latest politics news live – general election confirmed

“The King has granted this request and we will have a general election on the 4th of July”, Mr Sunak said.

The surprise move is a huge electoral gamble given Labour are ahead by about 20 points in the polls.

It comes after official figures showed inflation had come down to 2.3% in April.

Mr Sunak said this is “proof that the plan and priorities I set out are working”.

More on General Election 2024

However, he said “this hard earned economic stability was only ever meant to be the beginning”.

In a rallying cry to the nation he said: “The question now is how and who do you trust to turn that foundation into a secure future for you, your family and our country?

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Sky’s Beth Rigby explains why inflation and boat crossings may have played a part in the timing of the election

“Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future and to decide whether we want to build on the progress we have made or risk going back to square one. With no plan and no certainty.”

Mr Sunak had to contend with New Labour anthem Things Can Only Get Better being played from beyond the gates to Downing Street as he delivered his speech.

In a sign the election will be fought on the economy, the prime minister opened his remarks by harking back to his days as chancellor during the pandemic, saying he served the country while “the future hung in the balance”.

He said that economic stability is “the bedrock of any future success” and accused Labour of having no plan.

Summer election big gamble for Sunak

By Darren McCaffrey, political correspondent

The prime minister, late, increasingly soaked and being drowned out by protesters, confirmed there will be a July election.

Rishi Sunak’s pitch to voters is essentially better the devil you know, stick with me, I have a plan and Labour has no ideas.

“Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future, to decide whether we want to build on the progress we have made or risk going back to square one with no plan and no certainty” he said.

He is hoping that a relatively long campaign, a focus on security, in what he describes as an uncertain world and his economic record will eat into the enormous poll lead Labour have.

It is interesting there was much less focus on migration and small boats.

Sunak admitted mistakes had been made, accepted they had been in power for 14 years but played on lots of voter’s apathy about what Labour’s plans are for government.

This is undoubtedly a massive gamble for the prime minister, no party has ever come back from such a difficult polling situation, but he hopes under scrutiny Labour and Starmer will crumble.

At the moment, most in Westminster think it’s a gamble that will not pay off.

Let the proper campaign begin.

He finished his statement with an attack on his rival for Number 10, Sir Keir Starmer, saying he has “shown time and time again that he will take the easy way out and do anything to get power”.

“If he was happy to abandon all the promises he made to become Labour leader once he got the job, how can you know that he won’t do exactly the same thing if he were to become prime minister?

“If you don’t have the conviction to stick to anything you say, if you don’t have the courage to tell people what you want to do, and if you don’t have a plan, how can you possibly be trusted to lead our country, especially at this most uncertain of times?”

Read More:
The current state of the parties in the polls
Find out the new constituency you’re in and how it’s changed

Election ‘opportunity for change’

Keir Starmer
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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Delivering his own televised statement from central London, Sir Keir said the election is an “opportunity for change” as he tore into the Tories’ record in government.

He pointed to sewage in rivers, people “waiting on trolleys in A&E”, crime going “virtually unpunished” and mortgages and food prices “through the roof”.

“On 4 July you have a choice, and together we can stop the chaos, we can turn the page, we can start to rebuild Britain and change our country,” he said.

If Sir Keir wins the election, it will end 14 years of Conservative governments under five prime ministers.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey, who is also hoping to make gains the the rural Tory heartlands, said the election is “a chance to kick Rishi Sunak’s appalling Conservative government out of office and deliver the change the public is crying out for”.

What are the rules for calling an election?

Mr Sunak has been saying for months the vote would happen in the “second half of the year” but had refused to set a date.

The assumption was that he would wait until the autumn to give him more time to deliver on his pledges.

However, speculation he could go to the country earlier mounted in Westminster on Wednesday as Cabinet ministers were summoned for an unusually timed meeting, with Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron cutting short trips abroad to attend.

As general elections have to be held every five years, the final day a vote could have taken place was 28 January 2025.

However, the Conservatives in 2019 restored the prime minister’s power to call an election at a time of their choosing within that five years.

The last general election was held in 2019, when Boris Johnson won the Conservatives a landslide over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

Since then, there have been two more prime ministers, Liz Truss and Mr Sunak, and the Conservatives’ 80-seat majority has been reduced by a series of by-election losses while their popularity among voters has plummeted.

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