Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has said he is considering a run at succeeding Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, and made a plea for the party to return to being a “broad church”.
The Remain-backing former director of public prosecutions has been widely tipped to throw his hat into the ring to lead the party after its worst General Election result since 1935.
In an interview with The Guardian, he said he is “seriously considering” entering the leadership race as he urged Labour not to stray “too far from its values” and called for it to continue a radical stance.
And he issued a dark warning about what Boris Johnson is capable of: “My fear is that they have a majority now to do pretty much as they like. They have a leader who I don’t think has any moral compass, I don’t think there’s anywhere he won’t go to stay in power.
“I think they have a leader who has made all sorts of promises he’s never going to be able to keep, and he will distract from his own failures by attacking those that are already the most vulnerable in our society.”
Some Labour figures have partly blamed Sir Keir and others from the party’s Remain-wing for the dire election performance in which it lost dozens of seats in Brexit-backing areas. Yet polling has revealed that Labour lost more pro-remain voters than leavers in the run up to its disastrous election result last week.
Sir Keir said: “There’s no hiding from it. It is a devastating result, but it’s important not to oversteer. The case for a bold and radical Labour government is as strong now as it was last Thursday. We need to anchor ourselves in that.
“I want trust to be restored in the Labour party as a progressive force for good: and that means we have to win. But there’s no victory without values.”
Labour must return to being ‘a broad church’
He told the newspaper that Labour failed to sufficiently combat the Conservatives’ simple slogan to “get Brexit done”.
“We should have taken it down. Frankly I’d have liked to opportunity to have done it,” he said.
He said there has been “too much factionalism” and called for Labour to return to being a “broad church” as he praised Corbyn-backing Momentum activists and supporters of former leader Tony Blair.
“I don’t think anybody would call me a Corbynista, but I’m a socialist,” Sir Keir added.
Sir Keir is the only man who is widely-tipped to run for the top job. He is likely to face a field of candidates vying to be the first woman to lead Labour.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey is being viewed as the continuity candidate to resume Mr Corbyn’s style of left-wing politics.
Sir Keir also responded to Boris Johnson’s U-turn on his promises to MPs that his EU withdrawal agreement would guarantee workers’ rights and the environment and Johnson’s bizarrely reckless announcement that he will add legislation to stop the transition period being delayed past a year – a time frame nobody involved thinks is nearly long enough. “This is typical of the reckless and irresponsible behaviour we have come to expect from Boris Johnson’s Government,” said Sir Keir.
“The Tories have shown once again that they are prepared to put people’s jobs at risk in pursuit of a hard Brexit.”