what lies in store for the new government?

In the early hours of Friday Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party crossed the threshold of power, securing a House of Commons majority in an election for the first time since Sir Tony Blair’s victory in 2005.

For Starmer, the hard part is about to begin. Here are some of the significant events and challenges facing Britain’s new prime minister in his first 100 days in office.

July 5: Palace visit

After Rishi Sunak tenders his resignation in an audience with King Charles, Starmer will visit Buckingham Palace and formally ask the monarch for permission to form a government.

Starmer will then travel to Downing Street and address the nation before meeting Number 10 staff, receiving a nuclear briefing and starting to form his cabinet. Junior ministerial appointments are expected on Saturday.

July 9: International summit

Starmer is expected to attend the three-day meeting of Nato members in Washington alongside leaders including US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Having stressed the importance of national security and support for Ukraine on the campaign trail, he is likely to signal the UK’s intention to face outwards and work more closely with allies.

First days and weeks

Labour will have to start tackling looming crises in public services and could enact several policy changes to emphasise its break with Tory administrations.

Starmer has said he will axe the Rwanda asylum scheme on “day one”. Ed Miliband, who is expected to be confirmed as energy secretary, has promised to reverse the de facto ban on onshore wind farms within weeks.

Incoming chancellor Rachel Reeves will ask the Office for Budget Responsibility, the fiscal watchdog, to start preparing forecasts ahead of an autumn Budget. John Healey, set to be defence secretary, will launch his year-long review of the UK’s military capabilities.

Labour’s expected health secretary Wes Streeting will begin talks with the British Medical Association, the doctors’ union, to try to end long-running strikes by junior doctors in England, one of a number of big problems facing the public sector.

Sue Gray, the party’s chief of staff, has drawn up what insiders call a “shit list” of issues Labour ministers will have to confront, including bankrupt councils, public sector pay and the potential collapse of Thames Water.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, expected to run the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, is expected to publish a revised draft of the national planning policy framework.

This would bring back top-down targets for housing delivery in every council area in England in an effort to ease the property crisis.

July 17: King’s Speech

The state opening of parliament will involve King Charles setting out the Starmer government’s legislative plans for a new session.

Labour is expected to introduce legislation empowering the OBR to independently publish forecasts of any big fiscal event involving major tax and spending changes.

The King’s Speech will also include “Labour’s plan to make work pay”. Overseen by Rayner, the employment reforms include a crackdown on zero-hours contracts and “fire and rehire”, new collective bargaining for the social care sector and extending equal pay protections to ethnic minority and disabled workers.

The party will need legislation to set up the centrepiece of its green energy plans — GB Energy, a new state-owned energy investor that will be based in Scotland and take stakes in renewables and nuclear projects. 

Labour is also expected to introduce a crime and policing bill to address antisocial behaviour and create a new offence of criminal exploitation of a child to tackle county lines drug-dealing, in which young couriers are used to ferry illegal substances from urban centres to more rural areas.

Other potential announcements on July 17 include legislation to:

  • Set up a new parliamentary Integrity and Ethics Commission, which would replace the existing Whitehall appointments watchdog

  • Address the growing number of people being sectioned because of a mental health condition and improve care for people with learning disabilities

  • Fulfil plans to gradually nationalise the railways

  • Reform the planning system, for example by removing “hope value” enjoyed by land speculators

Labour has also indicated it will revive several pieces of “off the shelf” legislation that Sunak promised but failed to enact before parliament was dissolved.

These include the tobacco and vapes bill, which will ban anyone born after 2009 from buying cigarettes and introduce new curbs on the sale of vapes; the renters (reform) bill, which will ban “no-fault evictions”; and the football governance bill, which will create a new regulator for the sport in England.

July 18: EPC summit

After the Nato meeting in Washington, Starmer will have a second opportunity to set out his vision to allies as he chairs a meeting of the European Political Community at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. It will be an important moment for Starmer to set out his ambitions for closer relations with the EU, including more co-operation on tackling illicit migration.

August 1: Summer recess

Starmer is expected to crunch the parliamentary recess, keeping MPs at Westminster until the end of July. The original plan was for the recess to begin on July 23.

Dissolution honours

Labour has created eight new peers in the dissolution list. Starmer could also create other new peers to be given ministerial jobs. Watch out for big hitters from the business world being drafted into high-profile jobs such as international trade.

September: Party conferences

The annual season of political party conferences will begin with the Liberal Democrats, who will gather in Brighton between September 14 and September 17.

Labour will meet in Liverpool between September 22 and September 25, with security significantly increased.

The Conservatives meet in Birmingham a week later in their first annual conference in opposition for 15 years.

October: Budget

Rachel Reeves will be expected to deliver her first Budget in mid-September or more likely after the party conferences in October. Around this time she will unveil her first comprehensive spending review — lasting one or three years — to set departmental budgets.

Measures that Labour has already set out in its manifesto include higher taxes on non-doms, extending and expanding the windfall tax on energy companies and imposing VAT on private school fees.

The party has also promised to increase the tax paid by private equity chiefs, but it is expected to announce a consultation before pushing through the change.

The bigger question is whether Reeves will choose to use her first Budget to increase wealth taxes, having refused to rule out a rise in levies such as capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

The alternative would be to accept an acute squeeze on public spending for most departments pencilled in by Sunak’s government.

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