Britain’s main opposition Labour party plans to announce a new leader on Saturday, which its 500,000 members hope will mark the end of one of the bleakest periods in its 120-year history.
“Britain has a functioning opposition from (today).
“Never has it needed one more, without parliament amid a deepening national crisis,” Andrew Adonis, a Labour member of the Lords, parliament’s unelected upper house, tweeted ahead of the announcement.
Keir Starmer, the overwhelming favourite to succeed outgoing left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, had urged the divided party to remain “radical” in spite of its disastrous slump in support in a snap election in December.
Corbyn apologised and agreed to step down after Labour lost 59 seats in the election, handing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives a big parliamentary majority.
Starmer, 57, said the party should stick to its values even with opinion polls suggesting that Corbyn’s leadership and Labour’s economic and Brexit policies were unpopular with voters.
A YouGov poll on Thursday suggested 36 per cent of Labour supporters thought Corbyn had “changed the party for the worse,” while 27 per cent thought he had improved it.
Starmer faced a run-off with left-winger Rebecca Long-Bailey, who was close to Corbyn, and centre-ground Labour lawmaker Lisa Nandy.
In a video message after ballots closed on Thursday, Starmer said the party had “demonstrated unity” during the leadership election.
Speaking to the BBC earlier, the former human rights lawyer said Labour had “carried too much baggage” into the December election, citing criticism of Corbyn’s handling of complaints of anti-Semitism in the party. (dpa/NAN)