Keir Starmer picked to lead U.K. Labour amid virus crisis

Cheryl Sanders
April 4, 2020

The 57-year-old was quickly elevated to the frontbench, serving as a shadow Home Office minister before being promoted to shadow Brexit secretary soon after the European Union referendum in 2016.

"Our goal when we do that is the same as the government's, to save lives", he said in a video statement that was pre-recorded due to the pandemic.

Sir Keir Starmer is widely expected to be named the next Labour leader later today, as the party's three-month contest to replace Jeremy Corbyn draws to a close.

Starmer pushed for a second Brexit referendum but said the election result had "blown away" that argument.

Ms Long-Bailey won more than 27% votes, while Ms Nandy who came third secured just over 16% of the ballots.

The announcement will now be made via press release, featuring a pre-recorded video acceptance speech by the victor, shortly before 11am.

Allies of the new leader have told The Daily Telegraph that he will adopt an approach of "constructive criticism", working with the Government in the "national interest" whilst also raising concerns where its response falls short.

A special conference had been called off due to the coronavirus crisis.

"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".

Starmer has been the party's spokesman on Brexit, the issue that has consumed British politics for four years. "Therefore, I would like to invite all opposition leaders to a briefing with myself, the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser next week". But with the courage to support where that's the right thing to do. "We emerge united and at this time of national crisis ready to hold the government to account and offer a genuine alternative".

"Those are the values we will reflect in our actions as an opposition and a movement - standing up for our public services, for our workers and carers, and for a society in which people work together and look after one another".

Unite, which had backed Long-Bailey and is Labour's biggest donor, highlighted their pledges to "build upon our party's radicalism". Nobody should be under any illusion: "restoring trust will take effort, time and political will".

Starmer has tried to cast himself as a unity candidate, and has promised to retain much of Corbyn's programme, including commitments to re-nationalise railways and increase income tax on the top 5% of earners.

"I want to pay tribute to Jeremy Corbyn, who led our party through some really hard times, who energised our movement and who's a friend as well as a colleague", he said.

"In this new era Momentum will play a new role.

We hope that the new leader will work in partnership with the recognized communal organizations to fix the damage caused by Mr, Corbyn and begin a reform process that may one day restore the community's faith in the Labour Party and return it to electability".

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