Labour leadership: Keir Starmer enters race to succeed Corbyn with pledge to ‘restore trust’ in party

‘We need a Labour government that will offer people hope of a better future,’ says shadow Brexit secretary

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Saturday 04 January 2020 19:58
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer enters Labour leadership race

Keir Starmer has confirmed his bid to be the next Labour leader, vowing to listen to the public about the way the party must change to “restore trust”.

The shadow Brexit secretary – already the front-runner to succeed Jeremy Corbyn – said he was “looking forward to getting back on the campaign trail” to win over the Labour membership.

Sir Keir again urged his party not to lurch too far away from the policies of the outgoing leader, despite its general election thrashing, having previously called for it “not to oversteer”.

He becomes the fifth candidate to declare, after Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis and prominent backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy.

“Over the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to getting back on the campaign trail and talking to people from across the country about how Labour can rebuild and win,” Sir Keir said, in a Sunday Mirror article.

“Britain desperately needs a Labour government. We need a Labour government that will offer people hope of a better future.

“However, that is only going to happen if Labour listens to people about what needs to change and how we can restore trust in our party as a force for good.”

Sir Keir is regarded with suspicion by some Corbyn supporters, having pushed for the pro-Final Say referendum on Brexit they blame for Labour’s catastrophic defeat, and would be another London-based leader.

But he said the case for a “bold and radical” Labour government was as important as ever, in an apparent attempt not to alienate left-wing members.

“As this new decade dawns, I believe we can unite the party, retain our values and win,” he insisted, ahead of a visit to Brexit-backing Stevenage.

He would beat Rebecca Long Bailey, the left’s – undeclared – candidate, by 61 per cent to 39 per cent in a run-off, according to a survey of 1,059 Labour members conducted at the end of December.

A human rights lawyer, Sir Keir was made Queen’s Counsel in 2002, served as head of the Crown Prosecution Service and accepted a knighthood in 2014.

However, he has stressed his working-class upbringing by a father who was a toolmaker and a mother who was a nurse, who named him after Labour founder Keir Hardy.

Sir Keir also released a campaign film highlighting his fights for justice, featuring words of support from Stephen Lawrence’s mother Baroness Lawrence, who said he was “instrumental” in getting justice for her murdered son.

His work with the National Union of Mineworkers and on the McLibel case against McDonald’s is also highlighted.

Meanwhile, senior Labour MP David Lammy ruled himself out of the leadership contest, suggesting his anti-Brexit stance rendered him unsuitable to unite the party’s “vociferous factions”.

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