Sir Keir Starmer has said that the Labour Party was ‘right’ to have moved to a ‘more radical position’, in speech calculated to appeal to Corbyn supporters in the party.
One of several prominent party figures said to be considering a leadership run to take over from Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Keir said that Labour is “not going back” on the outgoing leader’s position on issues such as homelessness and inequality.
Sir Keir has previously been intensely critical of Corbyn, having resigned a shadow cabinet position in 2016 when he called for stronger Brexit leadership.
As Brexit secretary, Sir Keir was a vocal supporter of a people’s vote and publicly urged Corbyn to back a second referendum.
But in a speech at a community event last week, he stood behind the direction the party has taken under Corbyn against austerity and its effects.
“Our party has moved to a more radical position in the last few years. And we were right to do it,” he said in the video, posted on Boxing Day.
“We are now the party of anti-austerity and rightly so. We’re not going back.
“We’re the party of common ownership, of investing in our public services, and we’re not going back.
“We’re the party that believes something cannot be good for the economy but bad for the environment. So there’s no going back.
“And we’re the party that welcomes everybody wherever they come from, including all migrants. And we’re never going back.”
He said that the election result was “devastating for the millions of people who needed change”, adding that despite the result, there is still a “moral fight” against poverty, homelessness and injustice.
“That fight wasn’t extinguished last Thursday. We weren’t wrong about that,” he said.
“We’re down, but we’re still here. And the first thing we need to do is rebuild our party. We’ve also got to be a really effective opposition.”
He emphasised that the party needs unifying, saying it would take more than a change of leader to do this.
“The job we’ve got ahead is not the job of just one person,” he said. If anybody thinks that you just swop the leader and the next election is won or lost is not understanding what’s just happened. It’s a team.
“We have got to unite this party around a radical plan and wherever people are in this party I think they’re yearning for that.”
Starmer is one of several potential leadership candidates who are setting out their stall within the party, and has been tipped as a favourite.
MORE: Sir Keir Starmer is voters’ preferred choice to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader Considered the party favourite, Rebecca Long-Bailey wrote a Guardian opinion piece saying the party needs unifying. Former miners’ union chief and Corbyn ally Ian Lavery has also hinted he might run.MORE: Rebecca Long-Bailey ‘considering’ Labour leadership run as other Corbyn allies eye bid Angela Rayner has been backed by Long-Bailey as a potential deputy leader, but has not yet ruled out standing as leader herself. Lisa Nandy is also expected to stand, while Clive Lewis and Emily Thornberry have officially announced they will run.