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Keir Starmer reacts to far-right surge in France: ‘Only progressives have the answers’

On the campaign trail on Monday, Keir Starmer reacted to the results of the French parliamentary elections. 

In the first round, the French elections have seen the far-right National Rally (RN) party and its allies reach 33 per cent of the national popular vote.

The leftwing New Popular Front (NFP) alliance came in second with 28 per cent while President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Together coalition reached 20 per cent.

This Sunday, the French public will be going back to the polls for a second round of voting.

Asked to comment on the results, Keir Starmer declared that “only progressives have the answer” to the challenges facing Britain and Europe.

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He said: “The lesson that I take from nationalism or populism, wherever it is across Europe,  … is we need to address the everyday concerns of so many people in this country who feel disaffected by politics, who feel that on this Thursday either that the country’s too broken to be mended, or that they can’t trust politicians because of what the Tories have done in the last 14 years.

“We have to take that head on and we have to show on Thursday in the United Kingdom and across Europe and the world that only progressives have the answers to the challenges that are facing us. …

“We have to make that progressive cause, but we have to in making that understand why it is, certainly in the United Kingdom after 14 years of chaos, why people do feel disaffected with politics, and return politics to service.”

The comments came as Keir Starmer took part in a campaign rally in Hertfordshire with Labour candidate Alistair Strathern.

Addressing the election event, Strathern said the choice at the election “couldn’t be starker”, insisting that the Labour Party will end the “underfunding” of public services and show “leadership” on the “thorny issues” of the day.

He accused the Conservative Party of pursuing “culture wars day after day” and promised Labour would show “compassion”.

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer urged voters to “turn the page and start rebuilding our country with Labour”.

“This is the final mile, these are the last hard yards, but the last steps are always the hardest”, he told activists.

“We have to remember that people need convincing. There are undecided voters out there. Every constituency is a fight and the polls do not predict the future, so we have to convince people. Convince people that change is possible. Convince people that if you want change, you have to vote for change, and that is what we have to do every hour of every day until 10 o’clock on Thursday night.”

With the polls in the UK set to open on Thursday, prime minister Rishi Sunak is urging voters not to “surrender your voice to Labour”.

Speaking at a rally later, the prime minister will say of Labour: “If they get the kind of majority, the supermajority that the polls suggest, they will set about entrenching themselves in power.

“They will rewrite the rules to make it easier for them to stay in office and harder for anyone to replace them. So, don’t surrender your voice to Labour on Thursday.”

The Conservative Party is also claiming that Labour’s immigration plans will result in a “deluge” of asylum seekers, leading to tax hikes of £635 per family each year.

Labour has branded the attack a “ludicrous lie from an increasingly desperate Tory party”.

The opposition claimed the Conservatives have “completely lost control of the asylum system or border security” and if they are re-elected “the chaos will continue and costs will soar further.”

Politics.co.uk is the UK’s leading digital-only political website. Subscribe to our daily newsletter for all the latest election news and analysis.

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