By Ned Simons
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The announcement of Jeremy Corbyn‘s successor was made on Saturday morning over email.
“It’s the honour and privilege of my life,” Starmer said. “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.”
Angela Rayner has been elected deputy leader of the Labour Party.
Starmer won the leadership with 275,780 votes, or 56.2%, of the 490,731 votes cast.
Rayner won the deputy leadership with 228,944 votes, or 52.6%.
Starmer’s victory will be seen as a rejection of the Corbyn project by party members, as allies of the outgoing leader had urged them to back Rebecca-Long Bailey.
In the end Long-Bailey won just 135,218 votes, or 27%. Lisa Nandy, the third candidate in the race won 79,597, or 16.2%.
In 2015, Corbyn took 59.5% of the vote – 251,417 of the 422,664 votes cast.
Plans to hold a special conference in central London to reveal the result were shelved as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions who was elected MP for Holborn and St Pancras in London in 2015 before going on to serve as shadow Brexit secretary, takes over as leader immediately.
Earlier this morning Boris Johnson wrote to opposition party leaders inviting them to a briefing next week on the coronavirus crisis.
The prime minister said “we have a duty to work together at this moment of national emergency”.
Amanda Milling, the chairman of the Conservative Party, congratulated Starmer on his victory.
“The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced in decades, so I call on Keir Starmer to put aside the divisiveness and infighting that has plagued the top of the Labour Party for the last five years, and work with the government to support the national effort,” she said.
Corbyn announced he was standing down as leader following Labour’s dramatic defeat at the December 2019 election.
He had served for almost five years in the post and in his final message to party members as leader on Friday he said “sorry” for having failed to take Labour into government.
But he defended moving the party further to the left than it had been under the leadership of Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, and said his anti-austerity politics were now “mainstream”.
Corbyn’s allies, including the grassroots campaign Momentum organisation, had urged members to vote for Long-Bailey in order to keep the outgoing leader’s project alive.
But her campaign got off to a slow start and she failed to generate the same enthusiasm among members as Corbyn did when he shocked the party establishment with his win in 2015.
Conceding defeat, Long-Bailey said Starmer “will be a brilliant prime minister”.
“I will do all I can to make that a reality and to ensure the Labour Party gets into government with a transformative agenda at the next election,” she said.
Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union who had been a strong supporter of Corbyn during his time as party leader, said “now, more than ever, we need a strong, united labour movement”.
He reminded Starmer that he had “pledged to build upon our party’s radicalism” during the leadership camapign.
In a statement, Momentum said it would “hold Keir to account and make sure he keeps his promises”.