Mayor welcomes Labour leadership result

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Sadiq Khan has welcomed Keir Starmer’s election as leader of the Labour party, saying he is “best suited” to hold the Government to account during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Mayor of London said changes in the party were “clearly necessary to put ourselves back on the path to forming a Labour Government”.

But he said he was confident Sir Keir would rise to “the scale of this challenge”.

Labour members chose the Holborn and St Pancras MP to replace Jeremy Corbyn as party leader, with Angela Rayner succeeding former MP Tom Watson as deputy leader.

Sir Keir took control of the party with a decisive 56% victory in the first round of voting.

Rivals Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy finished on 28% and 16% respectively.

Party members ranked leadership hopefuls by preference, and Sir Keir had to get more than half the votes in the first round to win outright.

Mr Corbyn also became leader with a first round victory – he got almost 60% of votes in the 2015 contest.

Sir Keir ran for the top job on a promise to unite the Labour Party, which won over members and made him an early favourite in the race.

Ms Long-Bailey said she would build on Labour’s radicalism and offer hope to the working class.

And Ms Nandy championed the sidelined voices of England’s towns, where many traditional Labour voters abandoned the party at the General Election.

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In the deputy leadership contest, Ms Rayner won with 53% in the third round of voting.

A&E doctor Rosena Allin-Khan, the MP for the Mayor’s former constituency of Tooting, came a surprise second on 26%.

Far left candidate Richard Burgon finished third on 21%.

London’s Mayor previously backed Sir Keir for the top job, saying he was “the best person to unite our party, take the fight to the Tories and put Labour in government”.

Speaking after the leadership results on Saturday, Mr Khan said he was “delighted” with the result.

He said: “This is an unprecedented time and our country faces extraordinary challenges.

“We are fighting with all we have to slow the spread of this virus, but it’s already clear that we will be dealing with social and economic consequences of Covid-19 for many years to come.

“The United Kingdom will, frankly, never be the same again.

“That just makes it all the more vital that Labour does its job by effectively holding the Government to account – and by making the changes clearly necessary to put ourselves back on the path to forming a Labour Government again.

“Keir and Angela are best suited to the scale of this challenge and I look forward to working closely with them and their new team to make it happen.”

In an acceptance speech shared on social media because of social distancing restrictions, Sir Keir said it was “the honour and the privilege of my life” to be elected leader.

He said at this “moment like no other in our lifetime”, Labour would work with the Government to fight coronavirus – and hold decisions to account in the interest of the country.

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