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New leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomed by Suffolk Labour figures

PUBLISHED: 12:04 04 April 2020 | UPDATED: 18:01 04 April 2020

Sir Keir Starmer delivering his acceptance speech after winning the Labour leadership contest. Picture: LABOUR PARTY/PA

Sir Keir Starmer delivering his acceptance speech after winning the Labour leadership contest. Picture: LABOUR PARTY/PA

Sir Keir Starmer has been elected the new Labour leader in a move welcomed by leading members of the party in Suffolk where most local groups backed his campaign.

File photo ot the Labour leadership candidates Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Sir Keir Starmer after a Labour leadership hustings. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA WireFile photo ot the Labour leadership candidates Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Sir Keir Starmer after a Labour leadership hustings. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

He won on the first ballot, winning more than 56% of the members’ votes. Angela Rayner was elected deputy leader, with almost 53% of the members’ votes on the third ballot.

After being declared winner Sir Keir, the former Director of Public Prosecutions who was Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted: “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.”

Ipswich council Labour leader David Ellesmere was delighted that Sir Keir had won. The Ipswich constituency party had backed him and Ms Rayner in the campaign.

Mr Ellesmere said: “This is excellent news. It is important that we don’t just have policies that are attractive to Labour Party members. We have to have policies that can attract people who are not members of the party.

“And we have to have leadership that people trust to deliver those policies. We have that with Keir.”

He also hoped there was a good omen in the election victory: “The last time I voted for the winning candidate in a Labour Party leadership election, it was for Tony Blair and he went on to win three elections. Let’s hope Keir can follow that up next time.”

Sir Keir said his election “comes at a moment like none other in our lifetime” as the coronavirus outbreak has “brought normal life to a halt” but brought communities together.

He said: “I can see this happening, people coming together to help the isolated and the vulnerable, checking on their neighbours. So many volunteering for the NHS, millions of people doing their bit to stop this virus and to save lives.”

The new leader also referred to the last few years of Labour Party struggles. He said: “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.

“And to all of our members, supporters and affiliates I say this – whether you voted for me or not I will represent you, I will listen to you and I will bring our party together.

“But we have to face the future with honesty.

“Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry. 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 election was also backed by Labour county councillor Jack Abbott who said: “This was a very decisive result and underlines the faith that Labour Party members have in Keir Starmer.

“He has received support from all wings of our Party and when you consider that many MPs, Councillors and unions also backed him, it is clear that he is well placed to start the rebuild.

“Few Labour Leaders could have faced more challenging starting circumstances, but I am convinced that Keir Starmer will show the leadership that our Party, but more importantly our country, needs.”

Ipswich Conservative MP Tom Hunt said Sir Keir was “more competent” than Mr Corbyn – but did not think he would be able to unseat Boris Johnson at the next election.

He said: “Labour still has great difficulty in pulling together its different strands. Many of its traditional working class voters are quite socially conservative. The see Sir Keir Starmer as being part of the metropolitan elite and I don’t think he will be able to break through in the Red Wall seats they need to win.”

But he hoped there could be some co-operation during the current crisis: “I know he will want to challenge issues that he feels needs to be challenged, but I hope we can all come together to work to defeat the coronavirus crisis.”


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