Chris Mason: What can we learn from Starmer’s first day as PM?

The last time I remember a cabinet meeting on a Saturday was during the Brexit years, and the time before that was because of the Falklands War.

In other words, they are rare.

It was about keeping on working, looking like you were keeping on working, and doing the job of government with vigour and energy.

As I stood in Downing Street, watching and talking to ministers – as we used to call them – there was a feeling akin to the first day of school.

Easy smiles, time to chat with security staff, and the excitement of holding a red ministerial file.

No doubt this new feeling would fade for them, and the hardship of judgment would set in. But at least this time, there was a conscious awareness of the magnitude of this moment for them.

It is 14 years since Labour ministers have walked into Downing Street.

It has been 27 years since they last managed to push the Conservatives out of power.

A few hours later, Sir Keir Starmer appeared comfortable, even calm, in the role of prime minister at his first press conference.

We reporters were taken to the government dining room at the heart of No. 10, not the specially designed room at No. 9 built by the previous government and particularly associated with party rows during the pandemic.

Sir Keir told us that his government would meet the challenges it faces with what he called “blunt honesty”.

He and his ministers have described prisons and the NHS in England as “broken”.

How long will we be patient with them blaming their ancestors, let’s see.

What we will see next – and it has been announced in advance – is a wave of activity and travel by the Prime Minister.

It turns out that when you win a general election, the meet-and-greet, the friendly parade and the smiling doesn’t end with a trip to the polling station.

Sir Keir is due to travel to Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff in the next day or so, and will meet mayors in England on Tuesday.

After that, there will be a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the annual NATO summit.

An opportunity for the Prime Minister to meet fellow world leaders – and be on a stage to which only presidents and prime ministers are invited.

And the following week (in other words, over the next two weeks) there will be the King’s Speech – the Opening of Parliament – where the government will set out its planned new laws.

Keir Starmer will then welcome about 50 European leaders to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire the following day, for a meeting of the so-called European Political Community, a new body separate from the EU.

They are determined not to waste any time.

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