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UK opposition Labour leader says still a long way to win power By Reuters


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© Reuters. Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer during a news conference at the Labour Party headquarters in central London on March 21, 2023. Jordan Pettitt/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – The failure of Britain’s Labour Party to take former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s old parliamentary seat in an election this week shows the opposition party still has a long way to go to win power, leader Keir Starmer said on Saturday.

Labour won a once safe Conservative parliamentary seat in northern England on the same day, but the narrow loss in Uxbridge and South Ruislip has given Prime Minister Rishi Sunak some breathing space as he seeks to reduce Labour’s large poll lead before a national election expected next year.

“If anyone needed reminding that there’s still a long way to go, Uxbridge is the reminder,” Starmer said in a speech at Labour’s National Policy Forum. “That result in Uxbridge demonstrates there is never any reason to be complacent.”

Starmer said on Friday the expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), planned for next month by the capital’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan, had been decisive in his candidate not winning in Uxbridge.

For his part, Khan said the policy to expand ULEZ remained the right one.

The Conservatives made attacking the flagship anti-pollution policy central to their campaign.

The ULEZ expansion has triggered a fierce debate across the city, pitching the mayor and health campaigners against those who say they cannot tolerate another economic hit at a time of soaring living costs.

“In an election policy matters,” Starmer said on Saturday. “We are doing something very wrong if policies put forward by the Labour Party, end up on each and every Tory (Conservative) leaflet. We’ve got to face up to that and to learn the lesson.”

“We’ve got to ask ourselves seriously – are our priorities the priorities of working people or are they just baggage that shows them we don’t see the country through their eyes?”

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