British Labour leader Keir Starmer is set to enter Downing Street on Friday, ending 14 years in opposition for Labour after their resounding victory over the Conservatives in a general election that also saw an unexpected breakthrough by the hard right.

“Tidal wave”: the verdict was on the front page of British dailies on Friday, unanimous in describing the political turning point in the United Kingdom, after 14 years of Conservative power.

Although the defeat of the Conservatives had been predicted for months by the polls, their rout is proving to be historic, confirming the desire for change among the British, exasperated by the succession of crises, from Brexit to soaring prices and the waltz of Prime Ministers in recent years.

According to British television projections, Labour would win 410 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons, just short of Tony Blair's historic score in 1997 (418).

“Britain in red”, the colour of Labour, was the headline in the influential tabloid The Sun, which had called for a Labour vote.

Outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party was disowned with its worst result since the beginning of the 20th century: 131 MPs elected, compared to 365 five years ago under Boris Johnson.

With the far right likely to gain power in France and Donald Trump looking set to return to the White House, the British overwhelmingly chose a moderate centre-left leader.

Keir Starmer, a 61-year-old former human rights lawyer, will be tasked by King Charles III on Friday with forming a new government. He has not yet spoken, awaiting his own result in a north London constituency.

But she warned that the future government will have to expect “difficult choices” given “the scale of the challenge”.

The Liberal Democrats (centrists) would be strengthened with 61 deputies, becoming the third force in Parliament again. But the surprise of the vote comes above all from the anti-immigration and anti-system party Reform UK: it would win 13 seats, a much more resounding entry than expected for the party of the hard-right figure Nigel Farage.

The former Brexit campaigner hailed the start of a “revolt against the establishment” as he himself is set to be elected to parliament for the first time.

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party's pro-independence party suffered a serious setback, expected to win only 10 of the 57 constituencies.

The very first results confirmed the predictions, with 12 victories for Labour, and Reform UK in second place in many cases.

Thirst for change

Just nine years into politics and four years into Labour's leadership, the new prime minister will face a considerable appetite for change.

Brexit has torn the country apart and failed to deliver on its supporters' promises. The price hikes of the last two years have left families impoverished, with more families than ever relying on food banks.

People sometimes have to wait months for medical appointments in the NHS, and prisons are at risk of running out of places in the coming days.

In 20 months in Downing Street, their successor Rishi Sunak, the fifth Conservative Prime Minister since 2010, has never managed to turn things around in public opinion.

The 44-year-old former investment banker and finance minister had tried a gamble by calling these elections in July without waiting until the autumn as many thought, but his campaign was disastrous.

Faced with inevitable defeat, his camp has been reduced in recent days to warning of the risk of a “super majority” leaving Labour without countervailing powers.

Opposite, Keir Starmer highlighted his modest origins – mother a nurse and father a toolmaker – contrasting with his multimillionaire adversary, and promised the return of “stability” and “seriousness”, with very rigorous management of public spending.

NATO Summit

Not very charismatic but determined, he promises to transform the country as he straightened out Labour after succeeding the very left-wing Jeremy Corbyn, refocusing it without qualms on the economy and fighting against anti-Semitism.

He says he wants to boost growth, fix public services, strengthen workers' rights, reduce immigration and bring the United Kingdom closer to the European Union — without returning to Brexit, a taboo subject of the campaign.

Next week, the new prime minister, who is expected to broadly continue Britain's current foreign policy, will take his first steps on the international stage at the NATO 75th anniversary summit in Washington.

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