Who is Keir Starmer - the man replacing Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader

PUBLISHED: 10:54 04 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:09 04 April 2020

Sir Keir Starme during the Labour Party Leadership hustings. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Sir Keir Starme during the Labour Party Leadership hustings. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

2020 Getty Images

Sir Keir Starmer is the man who replaces Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader after the party was defeated in a general election for fourth time in December 2019.

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The shadow Brexit secretary and former director of public prosecutions has been the bookies’ favourite to win the leadership, despite being viewed as more of a centrist than his main rival, Rebecca Long-Bailey.

But his campaign has seen him play up his left-wing credentials, highlighting his work as a lawyer supporting trade unions and poll tax protesters, and he has said the party should not “oversteer” to the right in the wake of the election defeat.

Starmer was born in Southwark, south London in September 1962, and raised by toolmaker father Rodney and nurse mother Josephine.

Labour supporters, they named him after Keir Hardie, the party’s first parliamentary leader.

He studied law at Leeds and Oxford University before embarking on a legal career which saw him rise to be head of the Crown Prosecution Service.In the 1980s he was credited with defending the print workers at Wapping, defending the dockers in Dover in a P&O dispute, and helping strikers who lost their benefits under the Thatcher government.

He is also credited with supporting the National Union of Mineworkers when the Tories closed the mines, and for 10 years Starmer defended Helen Steel and David Morris the high-profile McLibel court case when they were sued by McDonald’s.

In the early 2000s he stood up against the then Labour government’s decision to go to war with Iraq, and marched with those against the invasion.

Married with a son and daughter, he received a knighthood in 2014 for “services to law and criminal justice”.

He has been the MP for Holborn and St Pancras since 2015 and became shadow Home Office minister until resigning a year later in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

In 2016 he became the shadow Brexit secretary and was instrumental in getting the party to back a second Brexit referendum - pushing hard to get Labour to back an unequivocal Remain stance.

He has since acknowledged that the scale of the election defeat meant the issue was now settled.

MORE: ‘Labour members don’t think like the public’ - the unforgiving spotlight awaiting Starmer

However, he has refused to rule out campaigning for Britain to return to the European Union in the long term.

His policy pledges include raising income tax for the top 5% of earners, campaigning for EU freedom of movement to continue and to push for “common ownership” of public services such as mail, rail and energy.

The 57-year-old, who lost his mother-in-law during the leadership race, has also vowed to introduce a prevention of military intervention act if he becomes PM to ensure Britain could only go to war if the Commons agreed.

He has denied that he his too middle class to become a leader of the Labour Party, pointing to his working class roots.

Earlier in the year he told BBC Radio 4: “And, as for the sort of middle-class thrust, as you know, my dad worked in a factory, he was a toolmaker, and my mum was a nurse, and she contracted a very rare disease early in her life that meant she was constantly in need of NHS care.

“So, actually, my background isn’t what people think it is. I know what it’s like. I actually never had been in any workplace other than a factory until I left home for university. I’d never been in an office.

“So the idea that somehow I personally don’t know what it’s like for people across the country in all sorts of different circumstances is just not borne out.

“As a lawyer, that’s the one thing that defines my career - a passion for fighting injustice.”

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