Centrist and europhile Keir Starmer was elected leader of the British Labor Party on Saturday, succeeding the radical
Jeremy Corbyn with the challenge of relaunching the main opposition party, weakened and divided, in the midst of the
coronavirus. “Congratulations to @ Keir_Starmer, the new head of Labor,” tweeted the party, announcing the victory of this 57-year-old former lawyer who has been responsible for the past three years.
Brexit for Labor, which was a favorite.
It’s the honor and privilege of my life to be elected as Leader of the Labor 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. pic.twitter.com/F4X088FTYY
– Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) April 4, 2020
Barely elected on Saturday, Keir Starmer apologized for anti-Semitism in his party, Britain’s main opposition party. In a televised speech broadcast just after his election by members of his party, he said: “In the name of Labor, I apologize”, pledging to “wipe out the poison” of anti-Semitsime, a “stain on the party “.
Not very charismatic
Perceived as skilful but not very charismatic, Keir Starmer undertook to put the party back on its feet and to lead it back to power after its scathing defeat in the legislative elections last December against the Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, marked in particular by the loss of popular strongholds traditionally acquired by Labor. It was the second electoral defeat for Jeremy Corbyn since his surprise election to head Labor in 2015 thanks to massive grassroots support, and the worst since 1935.
“I understand the magnitude of the task,” said Keir Starmer. “Our mission is to restore confidence in our party,” he continued. “I will lead this great party into a new era (…) so that when the time comes, we can once again serve our country in government. The next legislative elections are scheduled for 2024.
“There is a lot of resentment and distrust,” said Steven Fielding, political expert at the University of Nottingham. “The first challenge (of the new leader) will be to put a team in place that will at least appear to have the capacity to unify the party.” But the new coronavirus pandemic, which is fueling government popularity, presents a much more immediate challenge.
“As party leaders, we have a duty to work together during this time of national emergency,” Boris Johnson wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday. Keir Starmer pledged on Saturday to work “constructively” with the executive “in the national interest,” but said he would point to weaknesses in the executive if necessary.