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Keir Starmer is U.K.’s new Labour party chief

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer   | Photo Credit: AP

The lawyer-turned-politician promises to work “constructively” with the government to confront the pandemic and not engage in “Opposition for Opposition’s sake”

Keir Starmer, the former shadow Brexit Secretary, on Saturday emerged as the winner of a three-way race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as the Leader of the U.K.’s Opposition Labour party.

The 57-year-old was elected after he defeated Rebecca Long-Bailey and Indian-origin MP Lisa Nandy, who were a distant second and third respectively in a postal ballot of party members, trade unionists and registered supporters.

In his video victory message, Mr. Starmer said his task was to “lead this great party into a new era, with confidence and hope”.

Mr. Starmer, who had been the frontrunner in the race since it opened for voting at the end of February, said he had been elected “at a time like no other” and promised to work “constructively” with the government to confront the pandemic and not engage in “Opposition for Opposition’s sake”.

“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,” said the MP for Holborn and St Pancras in London, who had fought on a unity platform.

The lawyer-turned-politician has previously led the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and served in Corbyn’s top team for more than three years and was the face of the party’s Brexit policy. Saturday’s result was announced by email after plans for a public event in London were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

Congratulations to Keir Starmer and his team. We have been competitors in this contest but never opponents and he will have my full support in the challenges that lie ahead, said Ms. Nandy, the 40-year-old MP for Wigan in Greater Manchester who had made it to the shortlist with strong backing from the party’s union base.

A united and strong Labour Party could not be more important than at this moment. The road back to power is steep but it does not have to be long, said Nandy, the daughter of India-born academic Dipak Nandy and a British mother, who along with other candidates had halted active campaigning last month as the coronavirus pandemic gained momentum in the U.K..

Mr. Starmer won in the first round of voting under the preferential system, polling 275,780 votes and representing 56.2% of the total vote share. Rebecca Long-Bailey came second with 135,218 votes — or 27.6% — with Nandy in third with 79,597 votes or 16.2%.

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 as she beat fellow MPs Ian Murray, Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler and Rosena Allin-Khan.

As many as 114,000 new members who had joined since the December 2019 general election, when Labour suffered a bruising defeat with its lowest number of seats since 1935, voted alongside members of affiliated trades unions and groups for the postal ballot.

Around 14,700 “registered supporters”, who paid 25 pounds to take part on a one-off basis, were also part of the preferential voting system in which the candidates are ranked in order of preference.

Jeremy Corbyn had announced he would step down as Labour leader in the wake of the disastrous election result last year which handed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a landslide win.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 7:35:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/keir-starmer-is-uks-new-labour-party-chief/article31256836.ece

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