Starmer urges focus and discipline as he welcomes new Labour MPs to Parliament

Sir Keir Starmer joked that Labour would need “a bigger hall” as he welcomed his party’s two newest MPs to Parliament on Monday.

The Labour leader praised Gen Kitchen and Damien Egan for their victories in Wellingborough and Kingswood last week, when they toppled Conservative majorities of more than 10,000.

Welcoming the pair to Parliament’s Westminster Hall, he said: “They both overturned incredible majorities, the like of which we wouldn’t normally be able to overturn, making history before they’d even been sworn in as Members of Parliament, a fantastic achievement.

“And if we carry on like this with by-elections, we’re going to need a bigger hall.”

(PA Graphics)

Sir Keir said the twin by-election victories showed the electorate had “had enough of this failed Tory Government” and represented “a vindication of all the hard work we’ve done” to change the Labour Party since he took over in 2020.

But he added a note of caution, again urging against complacency ahead of the general election expected later this year.

Newly elected MPs welcomed to Westminster
Sir Keir Starmer urged his party to remain focused, saying ‘one good result in February doesn’t win you the league’ (Aaron Chown/PA)

He said: “But, and there’s always a but from me, particularly as a football fan, one good result in February doesn’t win you the league.

“We need to stay focused, stay disciplined, celebrate these fantastic new Members of Parliament and go on and win that general election.”

Both Ms Kitchen and Mr Egan were sworn in as MPs on Monday afternoon after their elections provided a boost for Labour following the row over its candidate for the Rochdale by-election on February 29.

(PA Graphics)

Labour has been forced to drop its candidate, Azhar Ali, due to remarks he made about Israel and the conflict with Hamas.

Mr Ali will, however, remain listed as the Labour candidate on ballot papers, which had already been printed by the time the party withdrew its support.

He will contest the seat against two former Labour MPs, George Galloway and Simon Danczuk, as well as Conservative candidate Paul Ellison and Liberal Democrat Iain Donaldson.