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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Keir Starmer crowned new Labour leader after decisive victory in race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn

Rebecca Long Bailey, Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy.

4 min read

Sir Keir Starmer is the new leader of the Labour Party after winning a commanding victory in the battle to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

The former Shadow Brexit Secretary won outright in the first round of voting with 56.2% of the vote, roundly seeing off rivals Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy for the top job.

Ms Long-Bailey - who had pitched herself to the left of Sir Keir and won the backing of key allies of Jeremy Corbyn - won just 27.6% of first preference votes, with Wigan MP Lisa Nandy scooping up 16.2%.

Sir Keir racked up 275, 780 votes in total - 24,000 more than Mr Corbyn’s 2015 total - while Ms Long-Bailey picked up 135,219 and Ms Nandy picked up 79,597 votes.

The scale of the victory means second preferences were not needed to hand him the top job.

Sir Keir said it was the "honour and privilege" of his life to take up post as Labour leader "at a moment like none other in our lifetime" amid the coronavirus outbreak.

He said: “Our willingness to come together like this as a nation has been lying dormant for too long. When millions of us stepped out onto our doorsteps to applaud the carers visibly moved there was hope of a better future.

"In times like this, we need good government, a government that saves lives and protects our country."

And the new Labour leader said his party would "play its full part" in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Under my leadership we will engage constructively with the Government, not opposition for opposition's sake," he said.

"Not scoring party political points or making impossible demands. But with the courage to support where that's the right thing to do.

“But we will test the arguments that are put forward. 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.

“Our purpose when we do that is the same as the Government's, to save lives and to protect our country, a shared purpose."

Sir Keir meanwhile paid tribute to his defeated rivals, thanking them for "passionate and powerful campaigns and for their friendship and support along the way".

And he said of the outgoing leader: "I want to pay tribute to Jeremy Corbyn, who led our party through some really difficult times, who energised our movement and who's a friend as well as a colleague."

But he warned the party it must now "face the future with honesty" as he vowed to take action on an anti-semitism crisis which he said had been "a stain on our party".

He added: "I have seen the grief that it's brought to so many Jewish communities.

“On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry.

“And I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us."


The months-long contest to replace Mr Corbyn was kicked off after a general election which saw party suffer its worst result since the 1930s.

Sir Keir warned the party it had now "lost four elections in a row" - a move he said risked Labour "failing in our historic purpose".

The former director of public prosecutions said: “Be in no doubt I understand the scale of the task, the gravity of the position that we're in.

“We've got a mountain to climb.

“But we will climb it, and I will do my utmost to reconnect us across the country, to re-engage with our communities and voters, to establish a coalition across our towns and our cities and our regions with all creeds and communities to speak for the whole of the country."

The vow came as Angela Rayner was named Labour's new deputy leader, beating  her four rivals Richard Burgon, Rosena Allin-Khan, Dawn Butler and Ian Murray in three rounds of voting. 

The new deputy, who backed Sir Keir's rival Rebecca Long-Bailey, has already offered her congratulations to the new man at the top of Labour.

"This was a long campaign and by the end one conducted in extraordinary circumstances," the Shadow Education Secretary said.

"The hard work begins today, and Keir will have my full support in both getting Labour on the path back to government and in being a voice for those who need us during this national crisis.

“We must make sure the government delivers on its promises, and acts faster to provide the protection frontline workers need."

Jennie Formby, the party's general secretary who took up post under Mr Corbyn, said: “Huge congratulations to Keir and Angela on their election. I am looking forward to working with them both as we continue to hold the government to account and make the case for a fairer society."

Attention will now turn to the team Sir Keir picks for his Shadow Cabinet, with changes also expected at Labour HQ in the wake of a decisive win.

The Labour leader has already promised to offer both his defeated rivals “top jobs” in the Shadow Cabinet.

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