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UK Labour leader Keir Starmer says he'll end the era of 'gestures and gimmicks' if he wins power

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The left-of-center politician aiming to become Britain’s prime minister in three weeks’ time said Thursday he will lead a government that’s both “pro-business and pro-worker” and restore stability after years of economic and political turmoil.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said that if he’s elected on July 4, he will end the “desperate era of gestures and gimmicks” of the Conservative Party’s turbulent tenure.

Launching Labour’s election manifesto in the northwest England city of Manchester, Starmer said a Labour government would “stop the chaos, turn the page and start to rebuild our country.”

Next month British voters will elect lawmakers to fill all 650 seats in the House of Commons, and the leader of the party that can command a majority — either alone or in coalition — will become prime minister. Labour currently has a double-digit lead over Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ’s governing Conservatives in opinion polls.

The Tories have been in power for 14 years under five different prime ministers. The party jettisoned two prime ministers without an election in quick succession in 2022: first Boris Johnson, felled by scandals, then Liz Truss, who rocked the economy with drastic tax-slashing plans and lasted just seven weeks in office.

Starmer, a former chief prosecutor who is widely seen as competent but dull, is trying to turn his stolid image into an asset. His core message is that he has transformed Labour from its high-taxing, big-spending days into a party of the stable center.

He said his platform was “a manifesto for wealth creation,” and acknowledged that a Labour government would face “hard choices” about public spending.

“We cannot play fast and loose with the public finances,” he said. He said he rejected the idea that “the only levers are tax and spend,” and would get the economy expanding after years of sluggish growth.

Starmer’s cautious economic approach dismays some in his party, who want bolder change, but has won the support of many business leaders.

Sunak released the Conservative manifesto — the party's key handbook of promises — on Tuesday, pledging to cut taxes and reduce immigration if the Conservative Party is reelected.