Pro-European Keir Starmer elected new UK Labour leader

Pro-European centrist Keir Starmer was on Saturday confirmed as new Labour party leader. He will replace Jeremy Corbyn, who announced he would step down after a bitter defeat at the last election that saw sweeping gains for the ruling Conservatives.

The 57-year-old former chief state prosecutor defeated Corbyn loyalist Rebecca Long-Bailey and backbencher Lisa Nandy in a lengthy election campaign. Starmer, who was Labour's Brexit spokesman, called his election "the honour and privilege" of his life and vowed to "engage constructively" with Johnson's Conservative government. Johnson immediately offered his congratulations and the pair spoke, with Starmer accepting an invitation to a government briefing on COVID-19 next week.

Starmer was opposed to Brexit and played a key role in moving Labour to support a second referendum on leaving the European Union. However, voters were not convinced and Johnson took Britain out of the bloc on January.

Starmer will seek to reunite Labour now. He immediately addressed the issue of anti-Semitism that Corbyn was accused of failing to tackle, which tarnished the party's reputation and caused Jewish members to leave in droves."Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it's brought to so many Jewish communities," Starmer said.

The coronavirus outbreak brings a more immediate challenge. Johnson's government has imposed draconian curbs on public movement to try to stop the spread, measures backed by Labour. The Conservatives have also promised eye-watering sums to keep businesses and individuals afloat, wading into traditional Labour territory.

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