Starmer: Changing Conservative leader “not the fundamental change we need”

Elliot Chappell

Keir Starmer has declared that replacing Boris Johnson as Prime Minister with another Conservative MP is “not the fundamental change we need”, insisting that “the change we need is a change of government, a Labour government”.

In an interview this morning, shortly after it was revealed that Johnson had agreed to stand down, the Labour leader highlighted that the Conservatives have been in power since 2010 and argued the country needs a “fresh start”.

“Changing the person at the top of the Conservative Party is not the fundamental change we need. We need a change of government. We need a fresh start for our country,” Starmer said.

“The country is crying out for change. We’ve been stuck with a government that’s not been functioning in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, and now changing the person at the top of the Conservative Party is not going to make any difference.”

Asked whether there is anyone he “rates as a good opponent”, Starmer said: “For me, this isn’t a question about who leads the Conservative Party. It’s much more fundamental than that. They’ve been in power for 12 years… We need a fresh start for Britain. We need a change of government, we need a Labour government.”

A Downing Street source said this morning that Johnson has spoken to 1922 committee chairman Sir Graham Brady and said it was appropriate that he go and for the party to pick a new leader in time for Conservative conference in October.

The decision to vacate his post as Prime Minister came after Johnson saw more than 50 Conservative ministers resign from his frontbench, starting with Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak on Tuesday evening, citing his mishandling of a string of scandals and failure of ethics.

Johnson is expected to give a speech around midday from the steps of No 10, announcing his resignation. He is reportedly pushing to remain as Prime Minister until autumn, when the Conservative Party holds its annual conference. But Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the Tories need a “new leader as soon as practicable”.

It is expected that a Conservative leadership election will be launched soon. Contenders to take over from Johnson include Nadhim Zahawi, Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid, Penny Mordaunt, Ben Wallace, Jeremy Hunt and Liz Truss.

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