Victorious Keir Starmer pledges to restore trust in Labour

Toby Helm
Photograph: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Sir Keir Starmer has promised to rebuild the nation’s trust in the Labour party after winning a stunning victory to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

Related: A conference call with his defeated rivals – then Keir Starmer was straight down to business

The 57-year-old former shadow Brexit secretary secured more than twice as many votes as the runner-up – Rebecca Long-Bailey, the candidate of the Corbyn camp – and over three times as many as third-placed Lisa Nandy, the MP for Wigan. By securing 56.2% of the votes of almost half a million Labour members and affiliates, he has emerged with a huge and powerful mandate to lead the party as he chooses, after four-and-a-half years of the Corbyn project, during which two general elections were lost.

Angela Rayner won a clear victory to succeed Tom Watson as deputy leader, defeating Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and the left’s candidate, Richard Burgon, after three rounds of voting.

In a pre-recorded acceptance speech, Starmer said becoming leader was the “honour and privilege” of his life – but one that had been bestowed upon him “at a moment like none other in our lifetime”. Coronavirus, he said, had left “our towns and villages deserted” and had reminded us of “what really matters, our family, our friends, our relationships. The love we have for one another. Our health.”

Starmer will begin appointing his shadow cabinet on Sunday, announcing who will fill the roles of shadow chancellor, shadow foreign secretary, shadow home secretary and shadow health secretary. A spokesman said it would reflect all views and represent all wings of the party: “The team Keir supports will reflect the breadth of talent across the party and will be a team ready to take on the task of winning the next general election.”

Supporters of Starmer hope his success will put pressure on some of the key individuals close to Corbyn, who have remain in senior posts after the disastrous general election defeat last December, to step down.

Keir brings the energy, experience and political astuteness that we desperately need

Lord McNicol

These include Karie Murphy, Corbyn’s former chief of staff, and Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, who is also close to the former Labour leader.

In a scathing comment on the Labour’s failings of the last few years, Lord (Iain) McNicol, the party’s former general secretary under Starmer’s predecessor, told the Observer he was glad the Corbyn era was finally over. Starmer’s victory was, he said, a chance to recreate a “professional” party that could chart a route back to power.

“Keir’s election provides the opportunity to rebuild a professional, election-focused party capable of leading the country, something that has been sorely missing over the past few years,” said McNicol.

“Keir brings the energy, experience and political astuteness that we desperately need to reinvigorate our party. The sad fact that Labour has the lowest number of MP since the second world war tells you everything you need to know about the Corbyn experiment. I, like thousands in the Labour party, am thankful that that chapter is now closed.”

Starmer made clear he would take whatever action was necessary to reform the party, including rooting out the “stain” of antisemitism. “I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us,” he said. He will begin discussions this week with Jewish leaders.

Long-Bailey, Nandy and Corbyn all congratulated Starmer and said they looked forward to working with him. Long-Bailey said: “Keir Starmer will make a brilliant prime minister and I cannot wait to see him in No 10. I will do all I can to make that a reality.”

Nandy said that the current coronavirus crisis meant that Labour could rebuild trust fast and become the next government.

“The road back to power is steep, but it does not have to be long,” she said. “Our country is crying for fresh leadership. We start today.”