Sir Keir Starmer announced as new Labour leader
Keir Starmer has been announced as the new leader of the Labour party after a comfortable victory over his rivals.
The Holborn and St Pancras MP had been the clear frontrunner to succeed Jeremy Corbyn after winning the support of a majority of local constituency parties and regularly topping polling among Labour members.
He defeated shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, an ally of Mr Corbyn, and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy who were also in the running.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has been elected Labour's new deputy leader, succeeding Tom Watson who announced in November that he was standing down from parliament.
Sir Keir said it is "the privilege of his life" to be elected Labour leader and insisted that the focus in the months ahead will be tackling the coronavirus pandemic which has brought normal life to a standstill.
"It reminds us how precious life is, but also how fragile," he said in a pre-recorded victory speech.
"It reminds us what really matters - our family our friends, our relationships, the love we have for each other, our health, our connections with those we don't know, a greeting from a stranger, a kind word from a neighbour.
"These make up society and remind us that we share our lives together.
"We have to trust each other and look after one another."
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford congratulated Sir Keir on his victory and said it is vital
for opposition parties to work together during the Coronavirus crisis.
But he added: "I do not envy the position Keir Starmer finds his party in. Support for Labour has collapsed in Scotland.
"If they are ever to regain trust, they must stop ignoring Scotland's wishes and respect our democratic right to choose our own future."
Mr Corbyn stepped down following the Labour party’s dismal performance at the 2019 general election.
The leadership announcement comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued an open letter inviting opposition leaders to work together to tackle the coronvirus outbreak.
Starmer said Labour will "engage constructively" with the Government in efforts to tackle coronavirus.
"Not opposition for opposition's sake, not scoring party political points or making impossible demands but with the courage to support where that's the right thing to do."
Labour will test the arguments of the Government and "shine a torch" on critical issues.
"Where we see mistakes, or faltering government or things not happening as they should we'll challenge that and call that out.
"Our purpose when we do that is the same as the Government, so save lives and to protect our country - a shared purpose."
And he warned that when the virus eventually passes, there can not be a return to "business as usual.".
He said: "This virus has exposed the fragility of our society. It has lifted a curtain.
"We know in our hearts things are going to have to change. We can see so clearly now who the key workers really are. When we get through this it will be because of our NHS, our care workers, our ambulance drivers, our emergency services, our cleaners, our porters."
He added: "For too long they've been taken for granted and poorly paid. They were last and now they should be first.
"In their courage and their sacrifice and their bravery, we can see a better future."
Starmer's election is good news for Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard. Starmer had made it clear during the leadership campaign that policy on Labour's stance on a second independence referendum would be down to the party in Scotland, in line with Leonard's position. Rebecca Long-Bailey, who finished second, had indicated that if she was party leader - and Prime Minister - she would grant a second referendum if it was requested by the Scottish Parliament.
Leonard said: “Keir will make an outstanding leader of the Labour Party and future Prime Minister. He has the overwhelming support of members right across the party.
“Keir has a fine intellect but has his feet on the ground. He knows what we need to do to change this country, to come through this Covid crisis and to build a better society.
"He gets Scotland and the urgent need for a Constitutional Convention to modernise Britain. I am looking forward to working closely with him.”
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.