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As Boris invites leaders to Number 10...

Starmer succeeds Corbyn as Labour Party leader

Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer: honoured

Sir Keir Starmer has been elected leader of the Labour party, succeeding Jeremy Corbyn – and his first appointment is likely to be with Boris Johnson who has called a meeting of all party leaders next week to discuss the coronavirus.

The former director of public prosecutions, who has been an MP only since 2015, defeated fellow shadow cabinet member Rebecca Long-Bailey and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy.

Sir Keir, 57, was the clear favourite to be elected in a ballot of party members, trade unionists and other supporters. He won with 56.2% of the vote. 

Sir Keir, a lawyer who led the Crown Prosecution Service before entering politics as MP for St Pancras and Holborn, served in Mr Corbyn’s top team for more than three years as shadow Brexit secretary.

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.”

We can see so clearly now who the key workers really are.

– Keir Starmer

Sir Keir secured 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.

In his acceptance speech he said that once the coronavirus is conquered “we cannot go back to business as usual. This virus has exposed the fragility of our society. It’s lifted a curtain.

“Too many will have given too much. Some of us will have lost too much. We know in our hearts, things are going to have to change.”

He paid tribute to the health service workers. saying their role at the forefront of the battle should signal a change of priorities.

“We can see so clearly now who the key workers really are,” he said. “When we get through this it’ll be because of our NHS staff, our care workers, our ambulance drivers, our emergency services, our cleaners, our porters.

“It will be because of the hard work and bravery of every key worker as they took on this virus and kept our country going.

“For too long they’ve been taken for granted and poorly paid. They were last and now they should be first.

“In their courage and their sacrifice and their bravery, we can see a better future. This crisis has brought out the resilience and human spirit in all of us.”

Sir Keir’s victory means the long wait for a female leader of the party will continue. Labour is the only major political party currently represented in the Commons never to have had a female leader.

I will lead this great party into a new era

– Sir Keir Starmer

The process of choosing a new leader began in December after Labour lost its fourth general election in a row, suffering its worst defeat since the 1930s.

Mr Corbyn is standing down after nearly five years as leader. In an e-mail message to members he said he was sorry he had failed to return the party to power but suggested that, under his leadership, Labour had “changed the agenda on austerity and how the economy is run”.

Three other candidates who sought to succeed him – Clive Lewis, Jess Phillips and Emily Thornberry – either dropped out or were eliminated ahead of the final ballot.

The party elected education spokeswoman Angela Rayner as as deputy leader, defeating Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray.

Letter from Boris

Sir Keir’s first appointment will be at Number Ten after Boris Johnson invited all opposition leaders to a meeting in Downing Street to work together to battle coronavirus.

Mr Johnson writes: “Coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced in decades – and we are not alone. All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer.

“We are working to a scientifically-led, step-by-step action plan taking the right measures at the right time. We know this will not be a short battle – beating coronavirus will take months, not weeks.

“As party leaders we have a duty to work together at this moment of national emergency.

“Therefore I would like to invite leaders of all Opposition parties in parliament to a briefing with myself, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser next week.” (see letter below).   

The Queen will address the nation on Sunday to boost morale.

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