Sir Keir Starmer has been elected leader of the Labour Party after winning an overwhelming 56.2% of first preference votes to see of the challenge of Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy.
Angela Rayner has been elected deputy leader with the results of the leadership election being interpreted as “a decisive break with the Jeremy Corbyn era.”
Starmer’s victory was supposed to have been unveiled at a special conference which had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
‘This virus has exposed the fragility of our society’ – Starmer
In his video acceptance speech, Starmer said it was the “privilege of my life” to be elected leader and paid tribute to his predecessor and rivals before commenting on the pandemic.
He said the country could not “return to normal” after the coronavirus crisis is over.
“This virus has exposed the fragility of our society. It’s lifted a curtain,” he said. “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.
“We can see so clearly now who the key workers really are.
“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 a 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.”
‘A mountain to climb’
Starmer also apologised for the anti-Semitism that has been a “stain on our party” and acknowledged he has “a mountain to climb” given the Conservatives’ 80 strong majority in the Commons includes many seats in what were Labour heartlands and strongholds before December’s general election.
The new leader has agreed to meet Boris Johnson after the prime minister tweeted he had “written to all leaders of opposition parties to invite them to work together at this moment of national emergency.”
In his victory speech, Starmer said the party “will engage constructively with government” under his leadership but added, “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.”
Among those congratulating Starmer’s victory was former Labour leader Ed Miliband who tweeted: “His decency, values and intelligence are what our country needs at this moment of crisis and to lead us to a more equal, fairer and just future.”
John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor under Corbyn tweeted his congratulations to Starmer and Rayner and added: “let us unite now as a movement to achieve our socialist aim.”