LONDON — Keir Starmer has been elected the new leader of the U.K. opposition Labour Party.
The shadow Brexit secretary won the contest to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the first round with 56.2 percent of the vote. Rebecca Long-Bailey, who entered the race as the pro-Corbyn candidate, came in second place with 27.6 percent ahead of Lisa Nandy with 16.2 percent.
His victory marks a shift in tone for Labour, which was pulled markedly to the left under Corbyn. Starmer is expected to tack back toward the center ground.
Meanwhile, Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner was elected deputy Labour leader with 52.6 percent of the vote.
In a statement, Starmer said it was the “privilege of my life” to be elected leader, and noted that the start of his tenure will be defined by the coronavirus.
Starmer was elected to the House of Commons as MP for Holborn and St Pancras in 2015. He was promoted to the frontbench but resigned in protest over Corbyn’s leadership in 2016. He was later was handed the shadow Brexit spokesman job after Corbyn won a second leadership election.
He was credited with persuading Corbyn to soften Labour’s stance on Brexit ahead of the 2019 general election, with the party eventually promising a referendum on any Brexit deal, with continued EU membership as an option.
Before entering parliament, he had a successful legal career as a human rights barrister and later as the director of public prosecutions and head of the crown prosecution service, during which he worked closely with serving home secretaries.