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Sir Keir Starmer WINS election to become the new Labour leader as party members vote to abandon Jeremy Corbyn's hard-Left politics following general election disaster

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 04/04/2020 David Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent For Mailonline
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Sir Keir Starmer was today named the new leader of the Labour Party as its members comprehensively backed a break with the politics of five disastrous  years under Jeremy Corbyn.

Sir Keir, 57, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, overwhelmingly saw off the challenge of the Corbynite continuity candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey, who was backed by Mr Corbyn's closest allies.

The scale of the more moderate shadow Brexit secretary's victory in a vote by the party's 600,000 members shows a clear desire for change after the party's horrific mauling in last year's general election.

Mr Corbyn, 70, announced that he would quit as Labour leader in December, after the party suffered its worst election defeat since 1935 - following years of factional in-fighting, accusations of institutional anti-Semitism and bitter divisions over Brexit. 

He handed Boris Johnson an 80-seat majority, including a swathe of formerly 'red wall' seats in the north of England and the Midlands which had never had a Tory MP before. 

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Daily Mail

The announcement this morning was due to be made in a special conference in front of a mass audience. But due to coronavirus it was replaced with a simple email announcement with a pre-recorded victory message from the winner. 

In a message posted online Sir Keir said: 'It’s the honour and privilege of my life to be elected as Leader of the Labour Party.

'I will lead this great party into a new era, with confidence and hope, so that when the time comes, we can serve our country again – in government.'

a man wearing a suit and tie: Mr Corbyn, 70, announced that he would quit as Labour leader in December, after the party suffered its worst election defeat since 1935 © Provided by Daily Mail Mr Corbyn, 70, announced that he would quit as Labour leader in December, after the party suffered its worst election defeat since 1935

Who is Sir Keir Starmer? 

Sir Kier Starmer was raised by socialist parents who named him after Keir Hardie, the Labour leader's founder and a colossus of the socialist movement.

In Who's Who he refers to his parents Rodney and Josephine Starmer as 'Rod and Jo'. 

As his son described today, Rod was a toolmaker and Jo formerly a nurse before suffering from a physical disability. 

He was the first member of his family to go to university, studying law at Leeds and St Edmund Hall Oxford, before joining the Middle Temple chambers of Sir John Mortimer, the late barrister and novelist.  

He went on to specialise in defending in human rights cases and became a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 2002. 

Keir Starmer holding a sign posing for the camera: Sir Keir, 57, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, overwhelmingly saw off the challenge of the Corbynite continuity candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey © Provided by Daily Mail Sir Keir, 57, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, overwhelmingly saw off the challenge of the Corbynite continuity candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey

Just six years later, and despite being a defence specialist, he was made director of public prosecutions, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service.

The shadow Brexit secretary is viewed as more of a centrist than his main rival, Ms Long-Bailey.

But his campaign has seen him play up his left-wing credentials, highlighting his work as a lawyer supporting trade unions and poll tax protesters, and he has said the party should not 'oversteer' to the right in the wake of the election defeat.

He has been the MP for Holborn and St Pancras since 2015 and was instrumental in getting the party to back a second Brexit referendum - although he acknowledged that the scale of the election defeat meant the issue was now settled.

However, he has refused to rule out campaigning for Britain to return to the European Union in the long term.

His policy pledges include raising income tax for the top 5 per cent of earners, campaigning for EU freedom of movement to continue and to push for 'common ownership' of public services such as mail, rail and energy.

The 57-year-old, who lost his mother-in-law during the leadership race, has also vowed to introduce a prevention of military intervention act if he becomes PM to ensure Britain could only go to war if the Commons agreed.

Sir Keir has led the race from the start, winning the backing of 89 members of the parliamentary party in the first round of the contest, before securing the support of more than a dozen affiliated organisations in the second stage.

Ballot papers were sent out in late February to party members, members of affiliated trades unions and groups and 14,700 'registered supporters' who paid £25 to take part on a one-off basis.

Voting closed on Thursday and bookies had him as the 100/1 winner when they closed.

Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy looking at the camera: Sir Keir defeated Rebecca Long-Bailey (left) and Lisa Nandy (right) in the leadership vote when the result was announced today © Provided by Daily Mail Sir Keir defeated Rebecca Long-Bailey (left) and Lisa Nandy (right) in the leadership vote when the result was announced today

When Jeremy Corbyn signalled the start of the Labour leadership contest with his resignation in December, the challenges facing his successor seemed clear enough.

The party had gone down to its worst general election defeat since 1935 after years of faction fighting, accusations of institutional anti-Semitism and bitter divisions over Brexit.

Seats which had been Labour for generations turned blue as the party's hitherto impregnable 'red wall', running through the North, the Midlands and Wales, crumbled in the face of the Tories' advance.

Then the task had been somehow to emerge from the wreckage and rebuild a credible position that would at least given them some sort of fighting chance of wresting power away from the Boris Johnson and the Conservatives at the next election.

Since then, of course, all that has changed with the emergence of the coronavirus from Wuhan in China, causing havoc around the planet, turning upside down all conventional expectations of what might lie ahead.

In this frightening new world the Labour leadership contest, which was already struggling to ignite interest among a weary public, worn down by endless wrangling over Brexit, has been in danger of looking like an irrelevant sideshow.

So the first challenge for the new leader may well be to establish a clear voice on the one overwhelming issue of the day.

At a time of national emergency, he or she will have to decide how far they need to stand with the Government, while at the same time ensuring ministers are properly held to account.

Striking the right tone and balance will be crucial in establishing their credentials with voters as a potential prime minister-in-waiting.

But that does not mean the other issues facing the party will have gone away. 

First and foremost will be the need to reconnect with voters in their traditional heartlands who turned to the Conservatives at the election - not least because of Europe.

While Labour activists were overwhelmingly pro-Remain, they found themselves out of step with many working class voters who rallied to Boris Johnson's call to 'get Brexit done'.

At the same time there was profound suspicion of Mr Corbyn's left wing policy agenda and past links with Irish republicans and organisations like Hamas.

Politicians: Then and now [Photos]

The new leader will have to establish a credible economic policy framework in a world unrecognisable from the one in which the last election was fought.

While Mr Corbyn was criticised for his high-spending programme of mass renationalisation it is a Tory government which has now mounted an unprecedented state intervention to stave off economic collapse.

Where that leaves Labour in the months and years ahead will be a key question for his successor.

Meanwhile the new leader can also expect to come under pressure to show they are dealing with the accusations of anti-Semitism which have dogged the party under Mr Corbyn.

With all three candidates having acknowledged the party had been too slow to act, how the winner deals with the issue is likely to be seen as an early litmus test of the new regime.

Finally, there is the question of whether, after five years of fierce faction fighting, whether they can finally heal the rifts and bring the party together. 

 
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