New Labour leader Keir Starmer vows to lead party into 'new era'

Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has been elected as the new leader of the Labour Party.

The 57-year old defeated Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy in a ballot of party members, trade unionists and registered supporters and will succeed Jeremy Corbyn as opposition leader.

The lawyer, who became an MP in 2015, won on the first round of voting, with more than 50% of ballots cast.

He said his task was to “lead this great party into a new era, with confidence and hope”.

In a video message released by the party, he said it was an “honour and privilege” to have been elected and he hoped Labour “when the time comes can serve our country again – in government”.

The full results of the leadership contest were:

  • Sir Keir Starmer – 275,780 votes (56.2%).
  • Rebecca Long-Bailey – 135,218 votes (27.6%)
  • Lisa Nandy – 79,597 votes (16.2%)

Just over 490,000 people voted in the contest, out of the 784,151 eligible to take part.

Meanwhile, shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has been elected deputy leader. She defeated four other candidates but the contest was much closer, going to a third round of voting.

Sir Keir, the MP for Holborn and St Pancras, in London, had been the odds-on favourite to win the contest, having received the backing of more MPs and local Labour branches than his rivals as well as significant union support.

During the three month campaign, he argued he was best placed to unite the party and set it back on the road to power after its heavy defeat in December’s general election – which prompted Mr Corbyn to say he would stand down.

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership in two minutes

He has described himself as a socialist but not a Corbynite, and vowed to keep key policies from the Corbyn era, such as nationalising rail, mail and water and repealing anti-union laws, in a 10-point plan.

But his first task will be to lead Labour’s response to the coronavirus emergency, and he has been invited to take part in cross-party talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the government’s top scientific advisers next week, to “work together” on the crisis.

‘Constructive opposition’

Sir Keir said he had been elected “at a moment like no other” and promised to work “constructively” with the government to confront the pandemic and not engage in “opposition for opposition’s sake”.

But he added: “We will shine a torch on critical issues and where we see mistakes or faltering government or things not happening as quickly as they should we’ll challenge that and call that out.”

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Media captionSir Keir Starmer supporter David Lammy says his election win is “good news for the country”

Sir Keir led the Crown Prosecution Service before entering frontline politics. He served in Mr Corbyn’s top team for more than three years where he was responsible for the party’s Brexit policy.

Saturday’s result was announced by e-mail after plans for a public event were dropped due to the coronavirus crisis.

One of Sir Keir’s leading supporters, Labour MP David Lammy, said he was “ecstatic” about the outcome and his colleague would “provide the leadership this country needs in difficult time”.

The outcome means that Labour’s long wait for its first permanent female leader goes on – Harriet Harman and Margaret Beckett have both been interim leaders in the past.

Sir Keir’s two rivals paid tribute to him, Mrs Long-Bailey saying he would be make “brilliant prime minister” and she “would do all she could to make that a reality”.

Ms Nandy said she was proud of her campaign and offered Labour’s new leader her “full support in the challenges that lie ahead”. “Our country is crying out for fresh leadership. We start today.”

In the deputy leadership contest, the 40-year old Ms Rayner beat Richard Burgon and Rosena Allin-Khan in a third round of voting, after fellow MPs Ian Murray and Dawn Butler had earlier been eliminated.


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